The Society has been attempting to engage with Glasgow City Council about the road design on the new bridge since 2019, with the aim to encourage active travel such as walking and cycling, but it wasn’t until November 2022 that we got any response. With the aid of Cllr Jon Molyneux, GoBike and others, agreement was reached regarding improvements on the bridge and junction, including a segregated bike lane.
So we were massively disappointed when the bridge re-opened with the exact same road design as on its predecessor, as was our Councillor. It appears council officers “dropped the ball”.
The Society has written to the council to express our disappointment, and the letter is reproduced below (appendices removed for brevity):
Group Manager Liveable Neighbourhoods,
Glasgow City Council
Dear Mr Dunsire,
The Strathbungo Society has been trying to engage with Network Rail and Glasgow City Council on future plans for the Nithsdale Rd bridge ever since the plans for electrification of the line were given the go-ahead. For example, after the very helpful presentation given by Henry Dempsey to the Pollokshields Area Partnership about plans for the bridges in the ward and the respective responsibilities of the Council and Network Rail, we tried to engage further (correspondence appended). We had very little success with either NR or GCC but were therefore extremely hopeful when at Cllr Molyneux’s instigation you held a site meeting on the 8th November 2022 which was attended by Cllr Molyneux, a number of GCC staff, a number of the Strathbungo Society Committee and a representative from the Glasgow Cycling Campaign. We were told then that GCC staff had been working on the design of the road across the bridge, to ensure it was future proofed and that it would include a two-way segregated bicycle lane. Your staff also undertook to look at other issues, for example to address water run-off from the extensive area of hardstanding, perhaps by creating a green soakaway / SUD.
It was with dismay therefore that the Strathbungo Society witnessed the contractors returning the bridge to how it was with the same narrow “murder strip” (Go Bike) for cyclists on the north side of the bridge as previously, which is unlikely to meet modern design standards . We understand from Cllr Molyneux that the reason for this is partly that a TRO was required and this was not done in time. While we understand the pressures you and your staff are under and you may not have direct responsibility for TROs, we would appreciate a fuller explanation of what has gone wrong. It seems to us to be crazy that when the Council is so short of resources that we are now in a position where the road over the bridge will require to be dug up again to install the bike lanes. What a waste! Moreover, now the road is open again we suspect there may be more objections to any proposed new traffic layout than there would have been if this had been progressed while the bridge was closed.
We note that on the internet – https://urban-future.org/speaker/derek-dunsire/– you describe yourself as “making cities more sustainable through community-led activities at a local level, involving residents, academia, businesses, city authorities, and other stakeholder organisations … focused on delivering real outcomes and not just project outputs … by working collectively”. Unfortunately, there has been a total absence of any collective working on the Nithsdale Rd Bridge – between the community, Network Rail and Glasgow City Council and elected Councillors. In fact, it seems to have been a “closed shop” of GCC and NR. The Strathbungo Society has never been provided with plans, either by Network Rail or by the Council, of how the finished road bridge would look. Had we been given sight of the plans, we might have also been able to ensure that appropriate action and amendments were made, saving time and money for all concerned. The issues continue we now have serious concerns about the nature and the standard of the stone facing to the concrete parapets which don’t appear suitable for a conservation area. The contractors, BAM, have now been out to look at the work after comments on social media and we would be grateful if you would now ask a planner with conservation expertise to look at the work.
At the onsite meeting we asked for a contact to liaise with the Council on matters to deal with the bridge. Unfortunately, you declined to provide a named contact and instead suggested we use the generic Liveable Neighbourhoods email. The consequences of that failure to appoint a lead seems to us linked to the failure of GCC to provide us with the courtesy of a message explaining what had gone wrong.
The wider issue here is that in good faith we have started to engage with the Liveable Neighbourhoods Project Team at Atkins. It is clear from that that there is very little corporate memory within Glasgow City Council and we have had to provide them with copies of work we did on the Nithsdale Rd area as part of the Pollokshields Charrette. While we understand some of the challenges you and your staff are facing, and don’t mind providing Atkins with information where we can, with GCC now apparently so short of resources that it cannot even deliver a simple project for a bridge we have serious concerns about how any Liveable Neighbourhood Plan for our area can possibly be delivered. That raises the question of whether GCC, instead of outsourcing plans to contractors, might not be better employing staff and increasing its capacity to DO things.
To take things forward in a constructive and collective manner, we propose a meeting to be convened by elected Councillors and to include the Strathbungo Society, the two Community Councils, Go Bike and GCC officials (LNT, NRS / Roads) to review what went wrong – and more importantly to discuss and shape proposals for Strathbungo portion of approved design work for the active travel route between Pollokshaws Rd and Dumbreck Road – which crucially include the road bridge and environs.
The Strathbungo Society is very supportive of the Council’s active travel plans and would like to be in a position to help make these happen by explaining their benefit to local residents. To do this effectively will require collective discussion on design and action on delivery and implementation. In the respect the Society would also like to see early movement in 2023 to establish a new active travel route between the south end of Moray Place to link it Titwood Road.
(Chair Strathbungo Society)
cc Cllr Jon Molyneux, Cllr Zen Ghani, Bailie Norman MacLeod, Bailie Hanif Raja, Shawlands Community Council, Pollokshields Development Trust, Go Bike
We have also been in touch with the contractor responsible for the stone facing being installed on the bridge, with concerns about the quality of the initial work, and they have promised to review this.
If we get a reply, we will let you know.