Network Rail new plans to destroy the trees along the railway

(Statement from Fiona Mackinnon on behalf of the Strathbungo Society)

Network Rail are planning to cut down every tree along the 11 miles of track between East Kilbride and Glasgow Central.  Their timetable starts in September i.e . now.  When the chainsaws and giant chippers plan to arrive to work all night in Strathbungo, we do not know.

The Chair, Treasurer and Secretary of the Society and a number of local residents went along on Monday  night to Network Rail’s ‘drop-in information’ session but came away shocked by the potential scale of destruction planned but also by the lack of detail from Network Rail about what they will do and when.  Most importantly there was no real explanation why.

They seem to have a new policy which no longer just cuts down trees to a certain distance from the track or take down only large and dangerous trees.  This time they imply that they will destroy every tree to the boundary line of their land.  There is a possibility in the distant future of electrifying the line which would reduce diesel pollution but it could come at the price of removing the listed footbridge that they have spent over a quarter of a million pounds restoring.  Nothing is clear.

If you have been in Strathbungo for a while you will have a sense of deja vu.  We have been here before with Network Rail.  Their corporate memory seems a bit short…  Nobody in Strathbungo wants to compromise safety on the railway but there is a lack of proportion to this plan which if implemented would devastate precious habitat for birds, mammals and insects and rob residents of the screening from noise and pollution that trees provide.

As the Amazon burns and life-threatening storms, floods and droughts threaten the whole planet, Climate Emergency has finally become an issue that global governments are starting to address.

At a Scottish level, our government at Holyrood have declared a Climate Emergency and at local council level in Glasgow, ideas like using redundant golf courses for tree planting to increase wildlife habitat, curb pollution and sequester carbon are being actively considered.

This proposal from Network Rail is blatantly out of step, based on very outdated thinking and ignores all current research and practice for seeing trees as an asset which can help store carbon. Twenty-five square meters of woodland can store a tonne of carbon.  There are nearly twelve thousand square meters just in the section of track from Crossmyloof to Nithsdale Road.  If this is cut down that is a huge store of carbon release to warm the planet, destroy our climate and decimate human and wildlife populations.

We know that Network Rail have an independent report delivered to them last November which clearly told them they are not maintaining or valuing their (actually our) amazing assets.   https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/759698/valuing-nature_a-railway-for-people-and-wildlife-the-network-rail-vegetation-management-review.pdf

Network Rail are responsible for over 6 million trees and as one of the biggest public landowners they control 20,000 miles of trackside habitat that is ideal for wildlife, across every type of landscape in the country from remote Highland peat bog to the urban wildlife corridors though our biggest cities.  Yet they have drawn up plans to decimate this asset by taking a chainsaw to the trees and destroying vital resources for birds, mammals and insects.  The unique flora of the trackside will also be lost as wood chips are scattered more than a foot deep smothering every living thing.

The report they are ignoring is called “Valuing Nature : A Railway for People and Wildlife”  It sets out the fact that all public bodies must as a matter of urgency change their policies to conserve biodiversity and act against climate emergencies.  Network Rail is described as having a “lack of strategic vision and ambition, and limited evidence of a culture that values the environment as a national asset

The people who live in Strathbungo and all along the railway line do value the asset of beautiful green trees they see every day, alive with birds, squirrels, badgers, bats and foxes.

The Strathbungo Society had a successful approach to working with Network Rail over the handsome fence that was recently installed – despite Network Rail wanting high security prison style barriers so we are approaching this problem of potential destruction with the same determination.

The Society has written to Network Rail asking that they put any work planned for the area on hold until they have met with us and our political representatives including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Alison Thewliss our MP (Network Rail is a reserved issue to Westminster) and our four ward Councillors.

The Society has also requested plans, policy documents and assessments from Network Rail and we will keep you posted about what emerges.  Please come along to the next Committee Meeting next Tuesday the 17th of September in The Bungo Bar at 7.30. 

In the meantime, it is important to take your own steps to find out more from Network Rail, offer your objections to the plans and contact your political representatives and any campaign groups that you feel are appropriate.

There is another “information” – note, not “consultation” – meeting TONIGHT, Wednesday the 11th September 4pm – 7pm

Giffnock Library, Station Road, Giffnock, East Renfrewshire, G46 6JF

Don’t sit back and assume someone else will send that email or tweet – you have the power to do it yourself !

 

Contacts

Nichola Sturgeon MSP : https://www.parliament.scot/msps/currentmsps/99302.aspx

Alison Thewliss MP : https://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/alison-thewliss/4430

Cllr Norman Macleod https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/councillorsandcommittees/member.asp?id=779&t=Bailie+Norman+MacLeod

Cllr David Meikle : https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/councillorsandcommittees/member.asp?id=33&t=Councillor+David+Meikle

Cllr Jon Molyneux : https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/councillorsandcommittees/member.asp?id=2396&t=Councillor+Jon+Molyneux

Cllr Hanif Raja :

https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/councillorsandcommittees/member.asp?id=1299&t=Bailie+Hanif+Raja

 

Network Rail :

https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communities/contact-us/

 

Bungo in the Back Lanes 2019

A huge thanks to all the Society members who put months of planning in to this year’s event, the volunteers who helped setup, steward, and take down, the imaginative stall holders, the musicians, and everyone who came along to make the event another great success. Here’s a few random snaps of the day, with thanks to Craig Johnston for several of them.

And if you want to get more involved, planning starts again in the den at The Bungo on Tuesday 16th July, 7.30pm. There’s no let up. Come along if you have any great ideas to improve this or any other of our events!

If you have any good pictures, you can email us, or use the submission form, Write!

See you next year.

Queens Park Arena

There is a programme of events at the Queens Park Arena (the old bandstand) but they don’t always seem to be well advertised locally. Or I am not paying attention.

If you want to see what is on, try their events web page. Or follow them on facebook for updates.

Tomorrow (Friday 3rd May) they are holding a celebration of the great Paul Robeson’s appearance at the bandstand on May Day 1960, with an introduction by Norry Wilson of Lost Glasgow fame, and the play Call Mr Robeson. I believe the weather will be dry (if not that warm) and tickets are still available.

There are also disco sessions on this holiday weekend.

Parking in Strathbungo

The adverse effect of traffic on the comfort and safety of the residents in this area has the same root cause as in any other urban area, i.e. too many vehicles in too small a space. However, the problem is aggravated in Strathbungo in that the streets were not designed to carry through traffic or fast traffic, or to be used for parking. The older streets, Regent Park Square, Queen Square, Marywood Square and the northern half of Moray Place were built on a scale adequate for access to the houses by horse and carriage. The result is we have an area which is totally unsuitable for the unrestricted use of motor vehicles, whether belonging to residents or to anyone else.

So said the Strathbungo Society in their fact finding report in 1972. It’s a common theme in Strathbungo that the concerns of today are little different from those of yesterday, but it has been brought into focus by this week’s announcement of legislation to ban pavement parking in Scotland. What effect will this have on Strathbungo? Will we need to ask for an exemption, or is this the very thing we have been waiting for?

In 1972 the Society conducted a survey of the numbers of cars and commercial vehicles parked in Strathbungo overnight, There is nothing like hard data to base a discussion on, and so I couldn’t miss the opportunity to repeat it. This is what they, and I, found.

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Our environment

When I first moved into Marywood Square 4 years ago I thought that the lane running up the back of my tenement was a brilliant opportunity to get some wild flowers growing, so I sowed some seeds. They came to nothing. I was busy, new flat etc, I didn’t really give it much thought. The next Spring I took it a bit more seriously and I and a close neighbour both sowed seeds. Same result – nothing! But this time I realised why. The lane had been sprayed by weed killer – or so it appeared to me by the burned vegetation. So last year I gave seed sowing a miss only to see a couple of new plants in my garden killed as weed killer drifted through the railings.

I’m now getting more and more aware, and concerned that we have a serious environmental problem and it seems that globally we’re in the throws of a sixth mass extinction of species (manmade this time?) including a major threat to insects which are at the bottom of a food chain that maintains birds and animals and are crucial as pollinators. Could we in Strathbungo not play a small part in countering this by challenging the Council, who I’m presuming spray the lanes with weedkiller, and consciously try and turn our lanes into a haven for wild flowers insects and birds. It seems to me that this could be a very positive experience for the children in the area who with proper parental encouragement and support might enjoy helping bring wild flowers into the lanes and learning about them and the wildlife they support. I’ll contact the Council (again) and this time try and find out just why they think it’s a good idea to spray weedkiller. It seems strange to me as they don’t seem to take any responsibility for any other kind of “maintenance” in the lanes. Would other residents, and maybe the Strathbungo Society itself be interested in trying to get the spraying stopped and encouraging wild life into our area?

Local characters – David Murray

David Murray may not be the most familiar Strathbungo character, given he lives 35 miles away on a farm in West Lothian, but he has surprisingly strong links to the community.

He has been delivering fresh organic fruit and vegetables fortnightly to the area for many years (thewholeshebag.co.uk), and regularly serves at the Society’s Back Lanes Tea Garden. His son has even provided the musical accompaniment on the pipes some years.

He recently helped clear the railway embankment at Marywood Square in preparation for spring planting, and is a dab hand at patching cobbles in the back lanes, currently restoring a section off Marywood Square. He is landscaping several gardens, including fresh turf for the tea garden this year.

Single handedly sprucing up Strathbungo – if you spot him, say hi!

A Woonerf in Strathbungo

Statement from The Strathbungo Society Committee

Traffic and parking in Strathbungo present a problem of ever increasing severity; recently we have been informally advised that it will soon be necessary to restrict parking in Regent Park, Queen and Marywood Squares to a single side in order to allow access for emergency vehicles. Fire vehicles in particular are increasingly unable to get along these streets. There is however an alternative more radical solution to this problem that will also take care of many of the other environmental problems associated with Strathbungo’s streets. It is clearly not practicable to think of restricting use of the streets to pedestrians alone (pedestrian precinct) but it is possible to consider a residential precinct. This type of arrangement has been extensively used in Holland where it is known as a Woonerf (plural Woonerven).

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Window Wanderland

This year’s Window Wanderland was another great success, with the artistic spirit to the fore, backed by Pollywood Cinema, Brass Aye, and a live juke box.

It was mobbed on the night – we could do with more stewards and fewer cars next year – and it made the attention of the Observer.

Photographer Stefan Krajcik has once again provided some stunning photographs for us all to share.

Window Wanderland (© Stefan Krajcik)

Window Wanderland (© Stefan Krajcik)

So what are you going to do next year?

Spring 2019 Newsletter is here

The latest newsletter has arrived. Coming through your door imminently, or you can read it here, or at the BygoneBungo Newsletter Archive.

In the event of fire – park safely

In late January a resident called 999 to report a house fire. Two fire engines were promptly dispatched, but neither arrived. They both became trapped in the narrow streets of Strathbungo, due to poorly or illegally parked cars.

Fortunately the fire burnt itself out on this occasion, with no major harm done, but it could have been much worse. And this is not the first time this has happened.

Sometimes we pay too little attention to where we leave our cars, and the consequences it has for others, be it pedestrians and young children in the street, or those trapped in a burning building.

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