Tag Archives: glasgow city council

University of Glasgow protest: Police chief defends response

From STV News (video at link)

Click image for article on Glasgow Uni Climbdown.

The man in charge of the police response at the University of Glasgow protest has defended his officers after politicians and a student group criticised them for their ‘heavy handed’ response.

Superintendent Nelson Telfer made the comments to STV News following criticism from a former MSP, a Glasgow councillor and the Glasgow Student Representative Council over Tuesday’s protests.

Police were first called at around 10.30am by members of staff at the university. Staff there were dealing with the eviction of students who had been inside the Hetherington club for the past seven weeks. Over the next few hours, as the protesters left the inside of the building, the numbers of protesters outside swelled to around 150.

When asked if the police response – which is thought to have included around 80 officers, support vehicles and a helicopter – was disproportionate, Superintendent Telfer commented: “I would have to refute that in the strongest terms. Our officers’ response was proportionate to the situation and severe provocation that they sometimes faced today.

“I think it is of note there was only one arrest and that was after the incident. No people injured. No officers injured. In the strongest terms, I would say allegations of police brutality are absolute nonsense.”

Frances Curran, a former Scottish Socialist MSP, criticised the response. She said: “The deployment of at least 12 police vans, a force helicopter and large numbers of officers to enforce the cuts agenda of university principal Anton Muscatelli is scandalous misuse of police resources.

“This is surely a clear indication of the determination of the university and principal Muscatelli to bulldoze through his cuts agenda at any cost.”

Another to criticise was Martha Wardrop, a green councillor on Glasgow City Council. Backed up by party leader, Patrick Harvie MSP, she said: “Students occupying the Free Hetherington are taking part in a vital protest. I was disturbed to see police taking an active role in the attempted eviction, which served to inflame a volatile situation. I telephoned principal Muscatelli’s office to convey my views and explain that heavy-handed eviction attempts will only worsen relations between university management and the student body.”

The Glasgow Student Representative Council claimed that 80 police officers, 18 police vehicles and a police helicopter were at the scene.

‘Unacceptable’

Tommy Gore, president of the student group, said the presence of so many officers outside a university-owned property was “unacceptable”.

He added: “Whilst we support the university’s goal of turning the previously empty building into learning and teaching space, we cannot, in any way, see the justification for allowing such a disproportionally large amount of police onto our university campus.”

The protesters who had been inside the Hetherington club had been protesting against university principal Professor Muscatelli and proposed cuts of £20m at the university.

Postgraduate student Alice Coy was one of them. She said: “We’ve been occupying the building for seven weeks as part of an anti-cuts protest. We chose this building on purpose so that it was not an inconvenience to students as it closed a year ago.

“The security officers came in this morning to evict us, we’ve been given no warning. It’s very distressing and the university have been incredibly obstructive and refused to negotiate with us.”

The University of Glasgow, in a statement, said its security officers and Strathclyde Police were involved in evicting the students inside, as the building was due for refurbishment.

However, the university later retracted this statement, and police stressed they were not involved in any evictions.

A Glasgow University spokesperson said: “The University had previously written to the last remaining students occupying the Hetherington Building asking them to bring their protest to a peaceful conclusion. Since then, many students had left the occupation. But the continuing presence of occupiers in No 13 University Gardens was putting at risk plans the University has to refurbish the accommodation and to develop it for academic use.

“University staff entered 13 University Gardens this morning and asked the remaining occupiers to leave. The Police were then asked to attend when a group of protestors gathered outside. The occupiers left the building peacefully, and there were no serious incidents.

“In the afternoon a group of protestors has gathered in the vicinity of the University Senate Room. University staff are currently in discussion with them.”

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You must do better

From the Evening Times

Education bosses have promised to continue to support a failing Glasgow primary school criticised by inspectors.

Glasgow City Council spent £6.6million setting up Miller Primary, Castlemilk, three years ago.

Despite repeated criticism, teachers and administrators have failed to make improvements to bring the school up to standard.

A new report, based on an inspection carried out last November, contains further criticism.

It says that while attainment in writing has been boosted slightly, attendance is below average, pupils’ attainment in reading and maths is poor, and the school lacks direction.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education praised Glasgow City Council for giving “considerable support” to the school, but said this support is not being used effectively.

The curriculum was criticised and the inspectors said the school still lacked a sense of direction while the head teacher was criticised for not providing clear leadership to staff.

Miller Primary was first put under the microscope by experts in 2009 and rated “unsatisfactory” and “weak”.

Inspectors said they would revisit the school to ensure improvements were being made, but these have not been forthcoming.

Glasgow education bosses said today they would continue to monitor Miller Primary.

And in a letter to head teacher Linda Sommerville, seen by the Evening Times, head of education Maureen McKenna said she would be keeping a close eye on the school.

The letter said: “As you know, I am disappointed by this report. I had expected more progress by this stage. I will be closely monitoring your progress.”

The school’s first report, released in January 2009, gave Miller four “weak” ratings and one “unsatisfactory” rating – the lowest possible.

Inspectors were so concerned they arranged a follow-up inspection, but the results of that investigation showed Miller had failed to improve.

The school, which is a merger between Tormusk and Windlaw primaries, is on the same campus as Castlemilk Family Learning Centre.

 

Teachers ‘must give more time’

Scots lead in teaching hours

Scottish teachers spend more time in the classroom than most of their counterparts across the developed world, according to new figures.

A survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found school staff here spend an average of 855 hours a year teaching, more than any other country apart from New Zealand, Mexico and the United States.

In addition, the report by the OECD also found classroom teachers in Scotland were the eighth best paid in the developed world, the same as last year.

Countries ahead of Scotland – where non-promoted teachers can earn up to £34,000 – are Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany, Korea, Ireland, the Netherlands and Japan.

Teaching unions said the figures highlighted the long hours teachers were already working in the classroom at a time when some local authorities want them to do even more.

Last month, The Herald revealed the leader of Glasgow City Council wants teachers to work longer hours to stave off crippling budget cuts.

Gordon Matheson (Labour) said increasing the amount of time teachers spend teaching by 30 minutes a day – at the expense of preparation time – would save money and prevent cuts to frontline education services.

A few days later, Jenny Dawe (Lib Dem), the leader of Edinburgh City Council, spoke out in favour of the suggestion.

Teaching unions immediately criticised the proposals, which they said could diminish the quality of education while also meaning teachers needed to do even more at home.

Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said: “The amount of time that Scottish teachers spend actually teaching classes has come under misinformed attack in recent weeks.

“As this publication clearly shows, in no other country do teachers spend more of their working day teaching classes than in Scotland, yet Scotland continues to rank far lower in terms of the salaries paid to our teachers.

“In addition to the extremely high percentage of class contact time, Scottish teachers also rank very highly in terms of overall teaching hours. Scotland’s teachers continue to work some of the longest teaching hours in Europe, which is a credit to their professionalism and their desire to deliver the best outcomes for their pupils.”

However, Mr Matheson said: “I am well aware of the number of hours teachers in Glasgow spend in the classroom and how hard they work to achieve the best results for our children.

“However, the fact remains we are facing extremely difficult budget choices and I still believe that what I am requesting is reasonable. The fact that asking teachers to spend an additional 30 minutes in the classroom per day would save us £15million is not one I can ignore in the current economic climate, and that is why I have asked the Scottish Government to reopen the McCrone Agreement.”

The 2001 McCrone Agreement states that teachers work a 35-hour week but only 22.5 hours are spent teaching, with the rest protected time to allow for lesson preparation, marking and other administrative work.

Although no figures have been produced for Edinburgh, Glasgow said the change would save it £15m a year because fewer teachers would have to be employed.

School closure plans ‘called in’

If anyone can tell us why the government couldn’t ‘call in’ the closure of the 22 schools last year, but can call in these closures, please let us know.

From the BBC

Plans by Scotland’s largest council to close three schools have been “called in” by the Scottish government.

Education Secretary Mike Russell made the decision after education inspectors voiced concerns over the moves by Glasgow City Council.

The proposed closures of Stonedyke Primary, St Joan of Arc School and St Aidan’s School have now been halted.

Glasgow City Council said the call in was a “political decision” taken for “bogus reasons”.

The authority has been asked to provide more information to allow ministers to make a final decision.

Stonedyke Primary teaches youngsters from the Drumchapel and Summerhill areas of the city.

Under the council’s plans, pupils would transfer to two other primary schools.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) said there were a “number of issues to be addressed by the council” before it would be clear that the move would have educational benefits.

St Joan of Arc and St Aidan’s schools cater for youngsters aged 11 to 18 with additional support needs, with both schools having a number of pupils with autism.

Under the plans, most of these students would go to a new school, with a few transferring to a small specialist unit in John Paul Academy in Glasgow.

An HMIE report said: “Given the relative lack of detail about proposed modifications, it is presently difficult to be sure that the council’s proposal will lead to improvements in the educational experience of, and outcomes for, young people who are currently in St Aidan’s and St Joan of Arc.”

Speaking about his decision to call in the closure plans, Mr Russell said: “I do not believe the educational benefits of the proposal are set out in sufficient detail, as HMIE make clear in their reports and I have therefore decided this proposal requires further scrutiny.

Minister ’embarrassed’

“In each of these three schools, education inspectors have raised concerns over Glasgow City Council’s plans. These concerns are focused on how the education of the pupils will be improved in their new schools.

“In their official report into the plans, the inspectors have called on Glasgow to provide more information. It is right and proper that we take the time to allow this information to be provided and considered before allowing the closure to go ahead.”

Councillor Jean McFadden, executive member for education at Glasgow City Council, said: “This is an entirely political decision which has been taken for entirely bogus reasons.

“The minister is desperately thrashing around looking for something to cover his understandable embarrassment about Crossroads Primary in Ayrshire.”

Councillor McFadden’s comments refer to the Scottish government’s decision not to call in the closure of Crossroads Primary by East Ayrshire Council.

The move was criticised by the Rural Schools Network who said the closure “flew in the face” of laws created to protect smaller schools.

Purcell ‘helped party donors access top council official’

From the Herald

Steven Purcell

 

The disgraced former leader of Glasgow City Council helped arrange access to a top official for two Labour-supporting developers who later gave him a job.

Ex-Labour boss Steven Purcell helped tee up meetings between the pair’s lawyer and the council’s chief executive, and asked a second senior official to examine their business proposals.

Last week the duo, Allan Stewart and Stephen McKenna, announced they had given Purcell a post with their charitable foundation.

The businessmen are behind several housing projects in and around Glasgow. In 2007, shortly after the council agreed to pay them £1.7 million for a plot of land, one of their firms gave £5000 to Scottish Labour.

Councillor linked to Purcell scandal is suspended after financial inquiry

From the the Herald

A councillor embroiled in allegations of drugs and cronyism linked to former leader Steven Purcell has been suspended by the Labour Party and funding to her gay and lesbian centre axed after serious financial irregularities were uncovered.

Ruth Black - Glasgow City Council

The suspension of Ruth Black follows a meeting with the new leader of Glasgow City Council, Gordon Matheson, who removed the Labour whip from her after the authority’s internal auditors uncovered a raft of financial irregularities at the Castro Centre she runs with her long-term partner, Jeanie McDougall.

A second meeting yesterday between former Solidarity Party member Black and the council’s head of finance saw Castro’s £50,000 grant from the authority cancelled with immediate effect, in a move that is expected to see the Glasgow centre close.

Irregularities include non-payment of tax and National Insurance for staff, despite deductions made from wages, the employment of a relative, McDougall’s son, which runs contrary to council grant rules, and operating with no public and employee liability insurance. The centre’s building insurance has been withdrawn due to non-payment. Further checks were conducted into concerns about massive phone bills, irregularities over payments to and from gaming machines, and the use of the grant to pay for a car.

Castro has debts of £44,000 and although Black has said the centre will continue trading without the grant, senior sources within the council insist that would mean Castro trading insolvently as less than £20,000 of the grant has been paid.

HMRC is also investigating non-payment for seven months, while board member Robert Tamburrini, a senior figure in the social housing sector, has quit after the scale of the irregularities became clear.

Steven Purcell makes a comeback

Unbelievable!!!

WHAHEY!!! I got caught taking cocaine, and now I'm under police invistagation on several counts of corruption. Isn't life just grrreat?

From the Daily Record

Shamed former Glasgow council chief Steven Purcell to take up new charity post

Jul 5 2010 Keith Mcleod

DISGRACED former Glasgow City Council leader Steven Purcell is to take up a role with a leading Scottish charity.

Purcell resigned from his high-profile role in March amid drug and potential blackmail issues.

But he will begin work for the Stewart and McKenna Foundation before the police probe into his activities is completed.

The Daily Record exclusively revealed Purcell’s links to a Glasgow drop-in centre, The Castro gay and lesbian centre, on Saturday.

It is frequented by convicted gun runner Paul Ferris and has other links to the Glasgow underworld.

In the wake of his resigna-tion Purcell, 37, admitted to having “dabbled” with cocaine and underwent treatment at a rehab clinic.

He had been touted as a political “star” and a possible future Labour leader in Scotland.

Police began a probe in April but as yet no charges have been brought.

Purcell has expressed an interest in doing voluntary work for charitable causes.

The foundation was begun in 2004 by property developers Stephen McKenna and Allan Stewart.

It funds charitable and social schemes in Burundi, Malawi, Kenya and even Moldova.