Just a reminder that we will meet for our annual Hogmanay event at the corner of Moray Place and Queen Square at 11.45pm!
New Fire and Rescue Plans are being adopted across Scotland and a consultation on Glasgow’s is open until the 10th December (see here for all documents and online response form). As a member of the Glasgow Community Planning Partnership the Society was consulted and considered the plan at our last meeting. The response we submitted is pasted below and raises points about the provision of fire stations, access to the back lanes, the implications of the Grenfell fire disaster and fire safety in conservation areas.
The committee is keen to engage in more consultations in future and would welcome any feedback people may have.
Strathbungo Society response to Local Fire and Rescue Plan for the City of Glasgow
The Strathbungo Society is delighted to have been asked to respond to this plan and more particularly that the Fire and Rescue Service is consulting local communities about the role of the Fire and Rescue Service.
We believe there are many positive proposals to the plan and are particularly pleased to see that the Fire and Rescue Service is keen to join up what it does with other services and make the most of the resources it has. Two excellent examples of this are the proposals for how the Fire and Rescue Service could assist with responses to cardiac arrest in the city and how, when making fire safety checks, staff could also help people, particularly older people, identify other hazards in the home. This is sound joined up thinking.
We have four major concerns about the plan.
- The Plan says nothing about the provision of fire stations in Glasgow. We are concerned that the success the fire brigade has had in reducing the impact of fires (eg domestic fire safety) and therefore reduction in demand could lead to demands or proposals to reduce the number of fire stations in the name of efficiency. We accept efficiencies should be considered but from a community perspective, knowing that the fire and rescue service is there – even if never called upon – not just for fires but for major emergencies is one of the foundations for community safety and we do not think that should be reduced in any way. Far better the fire service extends the way it uses its resources (as in proposals above to extend its role) than to cut them.
- The Fire and Rescue service should review how it best services effective access to Strathbungo’s / Glasgow’s narrow streets and lanes. A recent bin fire in the lanes behind Moray Place / Regent Park Square was inaccessible to the fire engine that attended. More than one car was parked and blocking the entry to the lane from Nithsdale Road. Luckily the fire was not too far down the lane, so the fire officers were able to run a hose to the blaze and extinguish it. The incident could have been a far worse. However, it illustrates two problems; one the public safety issue of vehicles blocking entrances to lanes which could be addressed by council traffic and parking control. Traffic wardens are rarely seen in the area so making sure the area is on their radar would be a first step. (a matter for the Police?); Secondly the possibility for the Fire Service to consider the use of smaller fire engines / vehicles to allow it to effectively attend via narrow roads and tenement back lanes, of which there are many right across Glasgow and Scotland’s major cities and towns. This issue is similar to that faced by the City Council’s cleansing services who now provide smaller vehicles to undertake the service rather than much larger vehicles.
- We are surprised that there is absolutely no mention of the Grenfell Fire and the implications this has for fire safety in the city, particularly when we know there has been extensive survey of buildings which it is reasonable to expect the fire service to take a view on. The commitment in the plan to “Working in partnership to ensure the appropriate provision of fire safety standards are incorporated in new premises under construction or premises undergoing material changes” does NOT go far enough. Some buildings need to be improved whether other material changes are happening or not. We would like to see the fire service actively developing and arguing for further fire safety measures in a range of buildings across the city and part of this should be the retrofitting of sprinkler systems into tower blocks and public buildings that so far lack them. In addition, this could also usefully include a new policy of paid-for fire safety checks of Airbnb properties, particularly where these are in effect operating as short-term lets and other non-statutory forms of multiple occupation.
- How the Fire and Rescue service best promotes fire safety in tenement, terraced and Conservation Areas. We believe the Fire and Rescue Service has an important role to play in finding solutions to how modern fire safety measures can be made compatible with conservation objectives and in traditional tenement and terrace properties. For example, the requirement for fire doors in some properties has resulted in the removal of fine old wooden doors. We cannot see why doors cannot be created which meet both fire safety requirements and reflect the character of the original architecture. Similarly, Victorian houses / flats are poorly insulated by modern standards, and there are risks that in addressing this private and third sector operators may be using unsafe materials / methods (as in Grenfell fire) or else the materials and the way they are used destroy the character of the house. Therefore, we would like the fire service to consider its role in relation to wider objectives such as ensuring the fire safety of tenements and terraced houses in conservation areas – such as Strathbungo and Pollokshields – and its role in reducing fuel poverty.
Other comments we would make are:
- We agree with the analysis that much deliberate fire setting is of rubbish and fly tipping. A contributory factor to this has been the failure of Council refuse services to clear bulk items timeously (or at fixed times) with the result that items can lie on the streets or back lanes for prolonged period, in fact weeks. A proportion of these are then set alight. We would request therefore that the fire service adds its voice to local communities in making the case for improved refuse and especially bulk uplift collection.
- We also recognise that risks of fire within houses is likely to increase due to the forecast increase in numbers of people with dementia and the numbers of people with dementia living at home and these risks may further increase due to the escalation in mental health problems within society. This causes great concern for relatives and neighbours and we believe the fire service has a key role in developing effective preventive measures and besides sitting on Community Planning Partnerships needs to be at the table for Health and Social Care Partnerships.
- We understand the Fire and Rescue service shares our concern about misuse of fireworks. They have highlighted the practical difficulties of a ban on retail sales but seek their agreement in principle to support a community-wide initiative to explore a solution based on legislation and a programme of social interaction to address the causes
We welcome the commitment of the Fire and Rescue service to our local area partnerships in Glasgow and believe the issues we have highlighted here provide many good reasons why the Fire and Rescue Service should spend time interfacing with other services and local communities.
Without wishing to raise undue alarm…
There has been a spate of burglaries recently (both in Moray Place and across the railway line). They appear to be targeting specific properties known to be empty (even if only during the working day). The burglars have been disturbed on at least two occasions.
Please take extra care to protect your premises and deter these folk! You will find plenty of advice here.
Christmas should be a time of enjoyment for all families but not everyone will have what they need, even to eat. Sadly, food banks have become necessary to help members of our community throughout the year. They are especially vital to ensure that no one should go hungry at Christmas time. Our local food banks are providing an essential service, but they rely on contributions to provide that help.
To assist in that effort, the Strathbungo Society would like to encourage everyone to make a donation, as every little helps. Our nearest collection points are in the Sainsbury’s across the railway bridge, or in the Co-operative in Pollokshaws Road at the Post Office.
Just remember, please don’t donate fresh food or frozen food. But anything from tea, coffee, long life milk or fruit juice, to tinned goods or packaged goods like cereals or pasta could make a difference to someone in our own community who would otherwise not be having Christmas at all. Many also need soap, toiletries or sanitary products.
We know that our community is generous and can help others out. All donations are warmly welcomed.
The Strathbungo Society is a registered charity and has to produce annual reports and financial statements that meet the requirements of the Office of Scottish Charity Regulator. The Report from Trustees for the year from 1st May 2016 to 30th April 2017 and the Independent Examiner’s Report on the financial statements were approved at the AGM held on 24th October 2017. They can be read or downloaded by clicking the links.
Sorry folks, failed to get report of the fourth discussion group at AGM out for last week (see Heather’s post 27th). This group discussed how we might progress the ideas that came out of the Pollokshields charrette or community planning event, subsequent walkabouts for the Nithsdale Rd area (which includes the phone box) and the stall we ran at Bungo in the Back Lanes. Since then very little has happened but recently we were informed by the Pollokshields Trust that it has been approved funding in principle to help the local community develop proposals further – good news.
While it was acknowledged that numerous good ideas for improving the area had been collected, the unanimous view was we should develop proposals to redesign the Nithsdale Rd deadend as a whole, with a view to greening it and changing the road layout. It was felt there was huge potential to improve the street from how it is at present to the benefit of the people who live there, local businesses and the wider local community. The big idea here was there should be a line of trees down the centre (could be in planters) with parking on either side of this central line around which cars could circulate. Coupled with this the pavement areas could be improved (eg removal of rubbish bins).
There was support for setting up a steering group to take this forward, with their first task being to consult and involve local residents and businesses in making the street a better place – with support hopefully from the Pollokshields Trust. While this could include some smaller projects – some “quick wins” (the phonebox?) would encourage people to get involved – central to this should developing proposals for street redesign.
And two new ideas were suggested, a city tree (see here) to reduce the pollution from Pollokshaws Rd and subterranean rubbish bins as happens in many parts of Europe.
If you are interested in getting involved contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Our hosting company will be updating the server where our website lives so the site may be unavailable over the next few hours (1 November).
At the Strathbungo Society AGM on Tuesday 24th October, as well as the usual annual reports and a fascinating insight into Bygone Bungo, we held discussions on a variety of subjects at different tables. We asked each table to provide the top 3 or 4 points from their discussions, so here they are:
The coming year
- Promote the Society as a support / platform for folks in the community who want to do things – from setting up a book club or lunch club to a community dining event etc; we’ve got contacts, seed-money (perhaps), social media and web presence to help folks realise their ideas.
- Let the wider community know when there are important, formal consultations on the go: the Society successfully lobbied the Boundary Commission for Scotland to get Strathbungo into the same UK parliamentary constituency as Pollokshields (as it is for Council and Scottish election); no one else in Strathbungo commented (or knew about it).
- Think about a community-based Christmas giving event: ideas included working with a local choir to sing carols and use it to seek donations to local food banks. Or (ditto) hiring Pollok Park’s Clydesdale horses to do a Christmas ”trot about” up and down the Squares and Gardens.
- Other ideas: more arts stuff at Bungo in the Lanes, even working with artists to create artworks; get a box junction at the entrance to Moray Place to enable freer access; encourage flower planting in the lanes …
The phone box
Aka the “Bungo Booth”?
- All agreed this would need a flexible design and organisation that could allow it to be used by many different local groups, organisations, business (and for us to be able to link in with them).
- Popular on the survey and in the group was an information panel on local history / Greek Thomson… Discussed possibly of this being on external solid side of booth as a permanent display allowing rest of booth to be used as a multi-purpose space.
- Potential uses: book exchange, bike station, pop up shops / events, art exhibition / installation, tool library, greenhouse, starting point for architecture / local history trails / running groups. Hire for use would be nominal amount to cover running costs.
- Make better use of social media: need to be much more active e.g. use our own Facebook page more, post in the Strathbungo & Shawlands Community group, use Twitter and Instagram?
- Rethink website (aka The Bungo Blog): need to think about who uses it and why, keep the blog (not everyone is on Facebook), think about what information newcomers to the area need/want to know.
- Check out other community websites as examples: e.g. Pollokshields Heritage & others
Feel free to add your thoughts here, or to comment on our Facebook page. Thanks to everyone who came and took part!