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Showing posts with label Athletes' village - Dalmarnock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Athletes' village - Dalmarnock. Show all posts

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The NUJ, the Herald and the freedom of the Press

The Herald carried a letter yesterday from Paul Holleran, NUJ Organiser calling for the press to hold the Trump organisation to account, a call one might have thought redundant, since the press and media have never let up on Trump since he first appeared on the Aberdeen scene.

Trump, in fact, is a popular target for the  press for the following reasons - he is a loud American with a bad hairdo, some risible political opinions, and not the most diplomatic of men. But more significantly, his project on the Menie Estate is a safe distance from the central belt of Scotland, where most of the media is centred, it is in Alex Salmond’s heartland, and because of the history of the project, it can usefully be laid at the First Minister’s doorstep.

But the press and media, with the honourable exception of the Scottish Sun, have carefully either avoided, underreported or misreported and misrepresented a much more egregious scandal involving a large property development in the central belt - the Glasgow East regeneration/Commonwealth Games project, especially as it affects Dalmarnock and its people.

The reasons for this neglect are fairly obvious - there is no single convenient foreign villain, there is little that can be presented sentimentally about rolling sand dunes and ecology, and most importantly, the ‘villain’  is the powerful monolith of Glasgow City Council, a Labour hegemony that up until May 2010 had intimate links with the UK Government, and still has links with a powerful Labour opposition party. The ordinary people of Dalmarnock can safely be sneered at, jeered at and ignored by the complacent Glasgow professional classes - a much safer option than offending the powerful.

This ‘villain’ can call on the Glasgow Police, the full resources of a council workforce and the draconian power of the law when necessary - and they have used all three to crush the hopes of the Dalmarnock families and businesses.

And it exercises powerful patronage through its political and commercial networks. GCC can make you rich; it has made many speculative property developers rich - or richer than they already were - through the settlements it reached with them over land purchase deals, all perfectly legal and a matter of public record, for those who take the trouble to look.

As far as my recollection serves me, the Herald has never published a letter of mine on the Jaconelli case - and I have sent many. I sent another yesterday (text below) - it has not appeared today.

The Herald, however, has no problem in using the services of Gerry Braiden today to attack the First Minister for supporting the Save the Accord campaign, a Dalmarnock disabled centre threatened with closure by GCC, obliquely accusing him of bowing to political pressure, and ‘kowtowing’ to the Save the Accord campaign. Of course, nothing the Labour-controlled GCC do is ever remotely political in the eyes of the Herald, and they fight only with the “sword of truth and trusty shield of fair play”.

A Google search, or Herald site search will give anyone interested a fair idea of how Gerry Braiden reported the Jaconelli case. It would be fair to say that neither he nor the Herald have been enthusiastic advocates of the cause of the Dalmarnock families and businesses, but have always managed to faithfully reflect the position of Glasgow City Council.

Glasgow councillors up the Eely-ALEO!

UNPUBLISHED LETTER TO The Herald - 14th June 2011

Paul Holleran, NUJ Scottish Organiser (Letters 14th June) calls for a 'healthy, functioning Scottish press' to hold powerful people to account over the behaviour of the Trump organisation in Aberdeen. I agree wholeheartedly.
  But where was the Scottish press when ordinary families and small businesses were being forced out of their homes and livelihoods in Dalmarnock by Glasgow City Council to make way for the Athletes' Village for the Commonwealth Games. Where were they when the Jaconelli family were faced by 80 police, 20 riot vans and masked council workers with sledgehammers as they mounted a last, defiant protest against eight years of derisory offers and legal intimidation. The answer is that they initially gave inadequate and often wildly inaccurate coverage, virtually a slanted re-hash of GCC leaks and press releases, and only at the final brutal end of the siege of Ardenlea Street to behaviour that would have disgraced a totalitarian regime in other parts of the world.
  One newspaper, the Scottish Sun, actually engaged with the story, with the facts, and with Margaret Jaconelli and the other families, and actually had a journalist inside the house as the combined forces of municipal power broke into the last refuge of a hard-working Glasgow grandmother and her terrified family and friends.

  Unlike the Trump homeowners, none of these Dalmarnock owner-occupiers were refusing to sell their homes or businesses - they simply wanted to negotiate a fair price for having their lives uprooted. But they were denied this and subjected to arbitrary and unrealistic valuations under compulsory purchase legislation, and because they refused to be intimidated into accepting grossly inadequate settlements, are now homeless and virtually penniless, all that they had worked for destroyed in the name of progress. All of this happened in parallel with speculative property developers being allowed to negotiate and reap astronomical profits, in some cases for doing little more than opportunistically acquiring vacant lots and re-selling them for profits that reached into millions of pounds for modest investments of a few hundreds of thousands of pounds.
  It's not too late, Paul Holleran, for the Scottish Press to start holding powerful people to account, and they can start in the City of Glasgow, where the HQ of the NUJ is situated, with a much bigger story than the Trump story, and a much more egregious injustice to get their journalistic teeth into. Or are there some people who are just too powerful to be held to account? Is it just easier to go for a cardboard villain from another country with a bad hairdo?

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Among the Dalmarnock victims of Big Sport

Reprinted from Facebook -

Demanding a replacement for soon to close Accord centre

For over 20 years the Accord Centre has been a well loved day centre for people with learning disabilities in the East End of Glasgow. Due to the Commonwealth Games the Accord Centre, situated in Dalmarnock, is to make way for a new road to the Games site.

We are told that due to the 'economic climate' there will be no new day centre and instead we are being offered a hired room in a yet unspecified community centre.

"The Accord centre means everything to me, all my friends are there, we get a good laugh there...I don't want to be in a community centre...I don't know who will be coming in or out...I want a safe environment" ..Cheryl McArthur, service user

We feel very strongly that this is completely unacceptable, and demand that, from the millions being invested into these Games, a new day centre is the minimum that the people of Dalmarnock and the East End deserve from these Games, otherwise what is the benefit of this big international spectacle to the people of Glasgow?

Please help us spread the word and raise awareness of this fight which may seem David & Goliath, but is one which we the Accord service users, parents, carers, determined to fight and win as common decency and justice are on our side.

Glad to be of some little help, Accord Campaign!


Peter Curran

Saturday, 26 March 2011

To the people of Glasgow East

An attempt to say something in verse, especially when it carries a political and social message, is challenging even for those with infinitely more talent and skill than I can muster. And the spectre of  McGonagall hovers beside me as I struggle …

But sometimes, only verse will serve the emotions.

(I shrink from calling it a poem but hope that it is more than doggerel)

So here goes -

The spirit of Ardenlea Street

Mungo came to a dear, green place

where Fergus chose to die

He built a church near a sylvan stream

where Fergus chose to lie

The Molendinar ran beneath

the hard grey rock above

And a great cathedral - stone by stone -

was built by men, with love

And from this place, a city grew

from the grove of the Lady Well

Some say that Wallace was betrayed

by men in this leafy dell

A child of the East, I knew this place

I played in light and dark

in the waters foul that the stream became

below the old fir park

The City now - a giant place

A second war has come

with death and devastation, yet

a spark of hope for some

In the East end of the City

In tenements dark and grey

lived a great, resilient people

And they live there to this day

But the wealth and power shifted

to the centre, west and south

and the great betrayal started

from the People's Party's mouth

So these ordinary people

must be broken on the wheel

And the things that they most value

must be ground beneath the heel

Of politicians venal

and the men that fund their greed

And while the riches flow to some

The Glesca people bleed

Among this devastation

A woman held her ground

She tried to fight for all she loved

in the wasteland all around

The brutal heart of power

to its eternal shame

has used the force that it commands

to play its dirty game

The men who fund their party

are on the inside track

and they become obscenely rich because

the poor are on the rack

And all the rich Glaswegians

believe the Council's claims

They're dazzled by the PR spin

and the promise of great Games

But back in Ardenlea Street

the doors are battered in

Unequal force has forced them out

The Party has to win

Now, for the Jaconellis,

a life begins anew

They're out, but not defeated

Although a great wind blew

And there are those among us

Who'll never let this rest

A great injustice has been done

and now begins a quest ...

To find the truth for Glasgow

and bring a cleansing rain

Then Mungo's spirit may return

to Glaschu once again

Saturday, 19 March 2011

GCC Jaconelli misinformation

The Herald report today by Helen McArdle was much more balanced, fair and accurate - and human - than most of the Herald’s previous coverage has been. Some misconceptions have been corrected - the GCC lie on the offer of accommodation, for instance. (They have never offered permanent rented accommodation to Margaret, and in any case such an offer was irrelevant to a house owner seeking financial compensation for having her house taken away from her.)

But Helen McArdle accepted at face value GCC’s deliberate misrepresentation, with partial information, of the facts of the mediation offer.

This ready acceptance of one side of an argument from the powerful without checking the other side from the vulnerable is dangerous, especially when the facts are readily available, and have already been reported by other news media.

The facts, Helen, are these -

1. Glasgow City Council rejected a formal written request by Margaret Jaconelli for mediation, a fact stated by her lawyer subsequently at a court hearing.

2. On Thursday evening, a representative of the Scottish Government made an offer to GCC to supply a mediator in the dispute. GCC rejected this offer out of hand.

3. On Friday, faced with a glare of publicity and media interest in the Jaconellis, and the widely publicised news of the Scottish Government offer, GCC suddenly gave the Jaconellis an time-limited ultimatum - vacate the property immediately and we will accept mediation, a bullying tactic that this vulnerable family, playing the only card they have in the face of the might of Glasgow City Council, the Labour Party, the law and law enforcement agencies, refused.

These are the facts. But perhaps it was too much to expect the Herald to report that an SNP Government had offered to help resolve this needless and damaging dispute, which is casting a dark stain over the Commonwealth Games, especially when the Labour-controlled GCC are rolling like a juggernaut over the lives, hope and dreams of an ordinary Glasgow family.

Another fact worthy of mention is that although the Jaconelli’s home is immediately adjacent to the Athlete’s Village site, in fact their land will be used to build private housing for sale by the developer Mactaggart & Mickel.

I don’t want to be grudging, Helen McArdle - this was the fairest Herald account of the Jaconelli’s long purgatory that has been given so far, and it captured some of the human reality of their plight. Just a little more fact checking and attention to detail, and you and the Herald will be almost there.

Thanks, Helen and the Herald!

Friday, 18 March 2011

How Glasgow City Council have misrepresented Margaret Jaconelli’s situation to the press

The following points have been repeated ad nauseam in the media and press about the Margaret Jaconelli case, fed by Glasgow City Council’s publicity machine. They are either untrue or highly partial and distorted versions of the truth. They are, in the true original sense of the word coined by Norman Mailer - factoids: things which everybody thinks are true except they ain’t.

Let’s nail them one by one …

Factoid 1. Margaret Jaconelli is refusing to give up her home, thus holding up the development of the Athlete’s Village for the Commonwealth Games, a desirable and necessary part of the regeneration of Glasgow’s East end.

Untrue: Margaret Jaconelli supports the regeneration project, recognises the inevitability of giving up her home, but has refused to do so until she is adequately compensated for its loss, her costs and the disruption to her life.

The Athlete’s Village is not being built on the site of MJ’s home - it is being built nearby. MJ’s home is required to allow Mactaggart & Mickel, a private developer and housebuilder, to build private housing for sale on the site.

Factoid 2. Margaret Jaconelli demanded £320,00 compensation for her home from Glasgow City Council, (GCC and media subtext: “…and is therefore greedy and unrealistic”)

Untrue: In one instance, a calculation was made contrasting two investment decisions - MJ’s decision to buy her house back  from Bridgeton and Dalmarnock Housing Association in 1998 for a sum of £30k (a 1990 valuation) and a developer’s decision to buy two parcels of land of vacant land between 1988 and 1989 for £45k. It showed that GCC, armed with the same compulsory purchase legislation and legal rights to acquire both, freely negotiated a price with the developer, Grantly, of £5.5 million pounds, yielding a profit of almost £5.5.m, yet offered MJ the 1990 valuation of £3ok, and refused to negotiate or use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve the dispute.

As an illustration of the gross inequity of these two approaches by GCC, a calculation was made showing that, on an investment versus investment basis, an argument could be advanced that MJ should have been offered £3.5m , but even taking a realistic fraction of this because of the difference in land occupied by MJs home and the developer’s plots, a figure of £320,00 could be advanced as a figure.

This figure was never intended as anything other than an illustration of the gross inequity of treatment being meted out by GCC, but somewhere along the line, the figure appeared as a negotiating demand on GCC, without MJs knowledge or express authorisation, and was seized upon by GCC, the tabloids and the media. MJ would have happily settled in 2006 for a figure of £90,00 - a figure ultimately and belatedly only offered verbally this year - 2011 - by GCC, and never formalised in writing. (An earlier formal offer of £85,000 was made late last year, 2010.) Between 2006 and late 2010, no offers were made by GCC, contrary to a statement made yesterday by GCC and reported in today’s ‘Sun’ that “we have been negotiating with her since 2007 over mutually agreeable compensation terms and a new home for the family.”

Factoid 3: Glasgow City Council  offered permanent alternative accommodation to Margaret Jaconelli and negotiated on the the location and nature of that accommodation.

Untrue: MJ was only offered temporary accommodation, on a take-it-or-leave-it basis and was expected to pay rental of around £400 per month to GCC for such temporary accommodation. Leaving aside the suitability of such temporary accommodation and its location, this offered no financial solution to a house owner who owned her property free and clear.

Factoid 4: Margaret Jaconelli is being unreasonable in rejecting a verbal offer of £90,000 for her home (which has never been formalised in writing with terms and conditions) in full and final settlement of all her claims, an offer that would have satisfied her in 2006.

Untrue: Since 2006, Margaret Jaconelli has been forced to pit her slender resources of money, time and energy against a giant City Council, one of the largest in the UK, with formidable resources of money, political influence, and able to call on the services of highly-paid professional, and legal advisors, including QCs.

She has incurred legal fees that she cannot afford, and heating and electricity bills way in excess of normal because of GCC’s actions in the vacant flats that surround her, actions that turned her once bustling, lively neighbourhood into a grim wasteland.

MJ could have bought a comparable property to the one she is losing in the middle of the price range for such properties in 2006 for £90,000, but she cannot do so now, because, prices have risen in that period, even in the face of the property slowdown after the crash.

Margaret Jaconelli’s settlement figure, which is a matter for her and her new, highly-capable lawyer, Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre, must now reflect those changes and her costs if she is to put her life back the way it was before Glasgow City Council, the law and the media attempted to roll over her little family life like a Juggernaut, to a shameful and deafening silence from every political party in Scotland.

That settlement figure must be separated from GCC’s last offer of £90,000 by a sum that is tiny in relation to GCC’s resources and the millions they have put into the pockets of speculative property developers. It probably represents a few months’ wages for a professional footballer, including those of Celtic Football Club, a stone’s throw away from 10 Ardenlea Street, a club that has maintained an equally shameful deafening silence over this Glasgow granny’s plight, in spite of their boast to be ‘Celtic in the Community’.

The outcome of today will be a sordid and depressing spectacle as this little Glasgow family have their doors broken down and are forcibly evicted from their home of 34 years.

But even at this eleventh hour, the great City of Glasgow could show some humanity. This needn’t happen!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Herald, the Court and Margaret Jaconelli

I have taken down my most recent post (a collection of today’s tweets) on the Margaret Jaconelli judgement because I now accept that the judgement, dated 3rd March (!) was available in the court, at least since yesterday. Gerry Braiden of The Herald contacted me with this information, and also sent me a copy of the judgement.

He accessed the freely-available judgement at the court, as he has a perfect right to do, and only ran the story when he realised that a freelance new agency had also accessed it. This is in accordance with good journalistic practice, and I accept completely that he acted in good faith and in accordance with professional ethics. I appreciate his information and clarification on this matter.

I still take issue with the superficial way in which the media in general have handled this case, and the inaccurate facts presented in many instances.

But the matter is now firmly in what I believe are the safe and principled hands of Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre, and that an appeal is highly likely.

I hope it will be successful.

Friday, 21 January 2011

A tale of two newspapers - The Herald and the Scottish Sun: The Margaret Jaconelli Case

Margaret Jaconelli appeared at the Sheriff Court, Glasgow yesterday in pursuit of her case for fair compensation for her wholly-owned tenement flat in Ardenlea Street, Dalmarnock.

The purpose of the hearing was to consider the eviction order Glasgow City Council is attempting to enforce against her, and to hear Margaret’s claim that GCC had not followed due process of law in previous hearings. She was unrepresented because her solicitor had withdrawn from the case, and she therefore secured a new hearing date of 16th February to permit her to find and brief a new solicitor.

In court were two newspaper reporters, Gerry Braiden of the Herald and Paul Drury, a freelance reporter acting for the Scottish Sun newspaper. Paul Drury has been in contact with Margaret by telephone and had direct contact and dialogue with her in the court. Gerry Braiden has had no contact with Margaret since the Herald’s and Evening Times’ previous hostile and pejorative coverage of her case, and made no attempt to speak to her, before or after the court proceedings or by telephone.

The Herald and the Scottish Sun today both ran significant stories about the case, but from very different perspectives - see links below

The 'story' in today's 'Herald'

The story in today's Scottish 'Sun'

The Sun focused on the massive profits made by Grantly Developments on two plots of land bought for a total of £45k in 1988/89 very close to Margaret Jaconelli’s home in Ardenlea Street, and the analysis made by a Glasgow University lecturer, published author and expert on urban regeneration and development, Dr. Libby Porter of the the two valuations made by Glasgow City Council of two plots of land under the compulsory purchase legislation.

The Sun used these calculations to run under the headline


Expert’s price tag on £30k pad

Exclusive by Paul Drury

The Herald, in contrast, with no recent contact with Margaret Jaconelli and no contact with Dr. Libby Porter, chose to run under the headline


Four-week eviction delay for woman on Games site

Grandmother secures reprieve after being dropped by solicitor

Gerry Braiden


The headline and sub-header are not too bad, but the story that follows is mainly pejorative in tone and content, consistent with the Herald and Gerry Braiden’s previous coverage of the MJ case.

But there are disturbing aspects in this story relating to the facts presented by Gerry Braiden. He refers to the meeting between Margaret Jaconelli and her solicitor, Mr. Carmichael with the Glasgow City Council District Valuer, Mr. Davidson. No other person was present. No offer of any kind was made to Margaret Jaconelli and her solicitor at that meeting.

But Gerry Braiden says (last para column two) in his report today -

“The Herald understands that at the meeting, Mrs. Jaconelli was offered around £90,000, which included money for the flat, upheaval and compensation. Mrs. Jaconelli is understood to have have rejected this, and although she is no longer demanding £360,000 for the two-bedroom tenement property, she is now believed to be holding out for a figure of about £250,000”

Every word of this is either untrue or a distortion of the facts, and certain very disturbing questions are raised about the Herald’s sources of information, their accuracy and their motivation.

1. No offer of any kind was made at the meeting on Tuesday 18th of January by the Glasgow City Council District Valuer.

2. A verbal offer was made at a later point in time verbally to Margaret Jaconelli’s solicitor, of £90,000, which he relayed verbally to Margaret Jaconelli by telephone, and no terms and conditions were specified in these verbal exchanges.

3. Margaret Jaconelli neither accepted nor rejected the verbal offer - her position was - and is - that she will give full consideration to any offer made to her in writing with all terms and conditions detailed in the offer.

4. Margaret Jaconelli has never ‘demanded’ £360,000 for her flat. Such a figure was quoted as an example of how various interpretations of value could be posited if the huge settlements made with various developers - The Grantly figures - were applied to MJ’s property, assuming some form of proportionality were applied to the relative sizes of the plots of land involved. (The Sun’s £3.6m illustrates the most extreme comparison.)

5. In the discussions with the District Valuer, MJ and her solicitor stated what her aspirations were - to achieve an agreed settlement that permitted her to buy a similar two-bedroomed, red sandstone flat in an area of her choice and have all her legal, conveyancing and moving costs met, plus some recognition of the excessive heating costs she has sustained over many years as as result of being forced to live in a tenement block where every other tenant or owner had left, and have some compensation for the disruption to her life caused by GCC.

Some discussion and speculation ensued as to what this figure might be, but no specific demand was made. The District Valuer made a reference to two-bedroom flat being on the market for around £63k. Since this represented the bottom of the market, MJ and her solicitor rejected such a figure.

The disturbing questions raised by Gerry Braiden and the Herald’s article are these -

From whom did Gerry Braiden and the Herald learn of an offer of £90,000 being made which was known only to MJ and her solicitor? On the face of it, it can only have been from a source within Glasgow City Council, since neither Braiden nor the Herald spoke to MJ or her solicitor?

Why was the offer misrepresented as being made at the meeting with the District Valuer, when no offer was made at that meeting?

Why did the Herald report there being highly specific terms and conditions to the offer, when no such terms and conditions have been specified, either verbally or in writing by GCC?

Why did Gerry Braiden inaccurately report that MJ had rejected such an offer, without interviewing her or her solicitor, when her clear position is that she will give full consideration to any offer properly made in writing with all terms and conditions detailed?

The $64,000 question - or perhaps the £3.5 million question is - Why has the Herald consistently presented a highly pejorative and one-sided view of Margaret Jaconelli’s case, one that at every stage has been selective in the facts presented, effectively only giving a platform to Glasgow City Council’s version of events, and leaving an impression of the vulnerable, ordinary - but extraordinary - Glasgow grandmother as a greedy, obstructive woman making unreasonable claims?

Nothing could be further from the truth, as anyone who has spoken to Margaret Jaconelli will testify. I came across Margaret’s case by accident, and have only known her since she contacted me following my first blog on the subject. We have never met, yet I will now stay with her to the end of her persecution by powerful forces in Glasgow, and until she reaches what she regards as an equitable settlement.

Why did Chris Leslie, a  Glasgow photographer and filmmaker, engage with Margaret’s case, champion her cause, and make a very moving film of her plight for YouTube?

Why did Dr. Libby Porter, a respected academic and expert on urban regenerations projects and planning law at Glasgow University’s Department of Urban Studies become interested in the facts of this strange and disturbing case?

The answer is that Margaret Jaconelli is an extraordinary woman, resilient and determined to put her life together in the face of an onslaught from powerful forces in Glasgow society. She supports the development, supports and welcomes the Commonwealth Games, and is perfectly willing to move - but only if basic principles of justice and equity prevail, and she receives a settlement that enables her and her husband to resume their lives as hard-working Scots, typical of the very best in the Glasgow and specifically the Glasgow East end character.

And during Margaret’s long fight, where the hell have the Labour Party been? Where has Anas Sarwar,MP been? Where has Frank McAveety, MSP been? The thing that used to be the People’s Party has been conspicuous by its absence and its silence, as a City council controlled by their party attempts to destroy Margaret Jaconelli.

And what of my own party, the Scottish National Party?

They have been aware of the case, they have expressed interest and concern, and Councillor Billy McAllister - that rare beast, a Glasgow Councillor with a deep concern for equity and justice, always willing to confront corruption in the city -  has been working hard behind the scenes for justice for Margaret.

But, SNP, you have not yet done enough or said enough publicly! Now is the time to show where you stand, clearly and unequivocally. A helluva lots of Glasgow voters will have your stance in mind when they go to the polls in May, in about 100 days or so.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

A great bulwark against corruption - the Glasgow Councillors Declaration of Interests document

Born and bred in Glasgow, I feel a surge of understandable civic pride when I see how the law protects the citizens of Glasgow from corruption and venality among their elected officials. (see Declaration of Councillors Interest document, reproduced below)

Secure in the knowledge that the legislation on Ethical Standards in Public Life and the Register of Interests Regulations requires every Glasgow city councillor to complete such a comprehensive declaration of interests, I can relax. Democracy is safe, in Glasgow at least. (I am certain that Edinburgh has a similar document, but corruption among elected officials in Edinburgh has not been at the forefront of my civic concerns in recent years.)

Corruption among elected officials strikes at the very heart of democracy, opening up the certainty of involvement of organised crime, perversion of journalistic values and a free press, with not even the processes of law and policing being exempt from the spreading cancer.

When corruption exists in government, commercial dealings are insidiously influenced: ethical procurement practices, tendering processes, contractual processes are all subject to its poisonous effects.

The information controlled by elected politicians, instead of being a force for openness, consultation and engagement with the electorate and the people, becomes something to be traded for profit. Insider information, say on the timing of a major city development project, if leaked to speculators could yield enormous unearned profits.

No one, no person, no institution, however venerable, is immune from political corruption. The levers of power have a hidden hand at their base: the framing and enactment of legislation is perverted by considerations of private greed, patronage and profit. And since corruption and organised crime know no local or national boundaries, forces and interests far beyond the democratic structures of constituencies, regions and countries exert insidious influences, invisible to the people.

The law-abiding, moral, ethical citizen become the victim of corruption, and is even obliged to be compliant, or at least silent in the face of it, by subtle mix of appeals to self-interest, to career prospects and advancement, to misplaced loyalties to party, religion and social group.

When this approach fails, and the most resilient individuals resist it, then an escalating process of intimidation, smear, manipulation of legal processes and where necessary, threats and violence come into play.

So it is with a feeling of relief and civic pride that I look at the great bulwarks that protect us from corruption - the law, a free press and media, and of course, a little declaration of interest, of which the Glasgow City Council form, reproduced below, is a fine example.

Let Glasgow flourish!

The Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (
Scotland) Act 2000
(Register of Interests) Regulations 2003
Last updated 6 May 2009

I, (name of councillor), a member of Glasgow City Council give notice that I have set out in the attached form, my interests as required to be declared under the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 (Register of Interests) Regulations 2003. I have also ensured that where I have no applicable interest I have stated “none” in the relevant section(s).
I further understand that it is my responsibility to notify the Chief Executive, in writing, of any applicable change(s) in circumstances within one month of that/those changes occurring.
Please complete this form in conjunction with reading the relevant paragraphs as detailed at each section (extracted from the Councillors’ Code of Conduct) together with the list of definitions included within the register. Please note the paragraph numbering relates to the sequence within the Code.
If you have any doubts as to whether or not you should declare a particular interest, it is wiser to supply the information rather than omit something which you should have declared.

4.3 You have a registerable interest where you receive remuneration by virtue of being:
 employed;
 self-employed;
 the holder of an office;
 a director of an undertaking;
 a partner in a firm; or
 undertaking a trade, profession or vocation, or other work.
4.4 You do not have a registerable interest simply because you are a councillor.
4.5 If a position is not remunerated it does not need to be registered under this category. However, unremunerated directorships may need to be registered under category 2 “Related Undertakings”.
4.6 If you receive any allowances in relation to membership of any organisation the fact that you receive such an allowance must be registered.
4.7 When registering employment, you must give the name of the employer, the nature of its business and the nature of the post held in the organisation.
4.8 When registering self-employment, you must provide the name and give details of the nature of the business. When registering an interest in a partnership, you must give the name of the partnership and the nature of its business.
4.9 Where you otherwise undertake a trade, profession or vocation, or any other work, the detail to be given is the nature of the work and its regularity. For example, if you write for a newspaper, you must give the name of the publication and the frequency of articles for which you are paid.
4.10 When registering a directorship, it is necessary to provide the registered name of the undertaking in which the directorship is held and detail the nature of its business.
4.11 Registration of a pension is not required as this falls outside the scope of the category.

(a) Give particulars of all paid employment specifying name(s) of employer(s), nature of business and title(s) of position(s) held. If self-employed give name and nature of business.

(b) If you are a partner in a business give name of partnership and nature of its business.

(c) Give details of any office/membership held by you (outwith Glasgow City Council) for which you receive payment – eg Trade Union or professional
body. (Do not include any office/membership for which you do not receive remuneration, this is dealt with at Section 7).

(d) Give details of any directorship(s) held by you (as specified at 4.10 above).

(e) Give details of other paid work (as specified at 4.9 above).

4.12 You must register any directorships held which are themselves not remunerated but where the company (or other undertaking) in question is a subsidiary of, or a parent of, a company (or other undertaking) in which you hold a remunerated directorship.
4.13 You must register the name of the subsidiary or parent company or other undertaking and the nature of its business, and its relationship to the company or other undertaking in which you are a director and from which you receive remuneration.
4.14 The situations to which the above paragraphs apply are as follows:
you are a director of a board of an undertaking and receive remuneration – declared under Category one – and
you are a director of a parent or subsidiary undertaking but do not receive remuneration in that capacity.

Give details of any directorships held by you, as specified above.

4.15 You have a registerable interest where you (or a firm in which you are a partner, or an undertaking in which you are a director or in which you have shares of a value as described in paragraph 4.20 below) have made a contract with the Council of which you are a member:
under which goods or services are to be provided, or works are to be
executed; and
(ii) which has not been fully discharged.
4.16 You must register a description of the contract, including its duration, but excluding the consideration.

Give details, as specified above, in relation to contracts with Glasgow City Council which have not been fully discharged, including description of that/those contract(s) and duration.

4.17 You must register a statement of any assistance towards election expenses received within the last twelve months.
Give details of any assistance received over the last 12 months as specified above.

4.18 You have a registerable interest where you own or have any other right or interest in houses, land and buildings, such as being an owner or a tenant, including council tenant.
4.19 You are required to give the address of the property, or otherwise give a description sufficient to identify it.

Give details of houses, land and buildings as specified above.

4.20 You have a registerable interest where you have an interest in shares comprised in the share capital of a company or other body and the nominal value of the shares is:
greater than 1% of the issued share capital of the company or other
body; or
(ii) greater than £25,000.

Give details of any shares and securities held by you as specified above.

4.21 Councillors may also have significant non-financial interests and it is equally important that relevant interests such as membership or holding office in public bodies, companies, clubs, societies and organisations such as trades unions and voluntary organisations, are registered and described. In this context, non-financial interests are those which members of the public might reasonably think could influence your actions, speeches or votes in the Council.

Give details of any office/membership held by you (outwith Glasgow City Council), for which you do not receive remuneration, as specified above.

3.6 You must never ask for gifts or hospitality.
3.7 You are personally responsible for all decisions connected with the acceptance of gifts or hospitality offered to you and for avoiding the risk of damage to public confidence in your Council and in local government.
As a general guide, it is usually appropriate to refuse offers except:
(a) isolated gifts of a trivial character or inexpensive seasonal gifts such as a calendar or diary or other simple items of office equipment of modest value;
(b) normal hospitality associated with your duties and which would reasonably be regarded as appropriate; or
(c) civic gifts received on behalf of the Counc

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Margaret Jaconelli - fair compensation or brutal eviction?

A link to a very moving and pertinent YouTube video made some time ago about MJ's situation, by Chris Leslie, a supporter.

Margaret met with the District Valuer yesterday and presented her claim for what she sees as an equitable settlement - a broadly comparable 2-bedroom flat to her present home, which she owns free and clear. I know the standard of such homes - my first flat when I got married in 1960 was just such a tenement flat, substantial, with generously proportioned rooms.

GCC seems to think she can be fobbed off with a 2-bedroom flat at the bottom end of the price range in relevant districts, roughly £63k to £140k plus. The top end is represented by exactly the kind of flat MJ now lives in, before the area and environs were vandalised by GCC and the development process. Margaret also wants her legal and conveyancing purchase fees paid and has a claim for excessive heating and lighting bills caused by the emptying and boarding up of all the flats surrounding her in the Ardenlea Street tenement.

No resolution was reached, and no offer was made by the valuer at yesterdays meeting. MJ now faces a hearing at the Sheriff Court in Glasgow at 10.00 am tomorrow, Thursday 20th, which will consider whether due process has been followed. It is essentially an eviction hearing, and an eviction order could be confirmed tomorrow morning and action to evict would follow swiftly thereafter.

The Scottish National Party has been kept fully apprised of the case, SNP councillors on the GCC are actively pursuing aspects of her case: Billy McAllister, SNP Glasgow City councillor is in active discussion with Margaret about her case. The SNP Communications Director, Peter Murrell is also closely monitoring the case, and reporting to the highest levels in the Scottish Government.

At the court hearing tomorrow, MJ will be accompanied by friends at court, and the freelance reporter Paul Dury, who placed the sympathetic Scottish Sun coverage of the case, will also be present. The Scottish Daily Express have been in touch with Margaret.

There has been a predictable, shameful and deafening silence from the Herald, the Evening Times and the Daily Record, all Labour-supporting papers, with a disgraceful representation for bias in what should be objective news reporting.

The Herald, which as the Glasgow Herald can lay claim to be the oldest newspaper in continuous publication in the world, has fallen a long way from its formerly high standards of journalism and editorial objectivity, almost as fast as its circulation has over recent years.

If  individual don't matter enough to get their voices heard in this tortured world of ours, what does matter?

A last word - Glasgow Sheriff Court is in the old Gorbals district of Glasgow, famous and infamous in turn for its slums, its old Glasgow gangs and the seminal 1930s novel No Mean City.

But today's Glasgow, under Labour and the GCC can be a very mean city, and a brutal injustice is being done to an archetypal Glaswegian family here by the very people and party that claims to be their champions.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Press tweeting time

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

@NewsnightScot If the interview isn't already in the can, try talking about media press bias and distortion of facts in Scotland, please BBC

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Glasgow newspapers radical circulation decline from May 2007. Did the election of an SNP government and Labour panic influence journalism?

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Sunday Herald circulation May 2007 = 56,024 : Sunday Herald circulation Jan 2011 = 39,831 : Re-vamps won't cut it - try telling the truth

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Daily Record circulation May 2007 = 404,131 : Daily Record circulation Jan 2011 = 290,247 Stop the decline by telling the truth to power.

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Radical thought for Herald, Record and Evening Times - try telling the truth to the people of Scotland, factually and free of party bias.

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

May 2007 Herald circulation = 71,740: Jan 2011 Herald circulation = 51,468 Source: National Bureau of Circulation 20,000 readers gone - why?

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

#MargaretJaconelli Glasgow East voters - you had a moment of good sense in 2008 when you threw Labour out. Do it again in Holyrood May 2011

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

#MargaretJaconelli Voters of Glasgow - you know what Labour did to the UK - now wake up to what they are doing to Glasgow and Scotland ...

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

#MargaretJaconelli Glasgow newspapers - why are your circulation figures declining? Something to do with objective reporting standards?

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

#MargaretJaconelli Settle equitably, Glasgow City Council, or face a media storm. (Herald, Evening Times & Record excepted, of course)

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

#MargaretJaconelli Any Scottish or Glasgow politicians who value their reputations better get involved fast, before the **** hits the fan.

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

#MargaretJaconelli If MJ isn't treated fairly, a lot of people, incl. big media, will dig very deep into GCC/Labour/developer links & deals.

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

#MargaretJaconelli MJ has now had her meeting with the District Valuer. He is clear where she stands - the ball is now in GCC's hands.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

The SNP must act now on the Margaret Jaconelli case

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

@jonsnowC4 Jon, an injustice is being done by Glasgow City Council, in the name of the Commonwealth Games, to a grandmother losing her home.

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

If the SNP isn't' about justice for the little people of Scotland what is it about? Labour, Glasgow media & GCC don't care but the SNP must.

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

SNP and Alex Salmond - show Glasgow that you care about individuals, not just big money developers and Big Sport. Labour doesn't give a damn

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

All you SNP politicians, tweeting happily about your cosy Saturday night - any room in your thoughts for a lone woman fighting for her home?

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Where are all the socially-aware Glasgow intelligentsia, highly vocal on big issues, when a real injustice exists over Margaret Jaconelli?

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

@Michaels_Dad Thanks. anything you can do - letters, tweets, contacting SNP - will be very welcome.

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Margaret Jaconelli: a lone grandmother fighting GCC, Herald, Evening Tmes, Glasgow Labour Party. SNP???… via @moridura,

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

@alisonthewliss She's a lone woman under major stress.Why don't you contact her, Alison?… via @moridura

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

@alisonthewliss Have you anything to say about the Jaconelli case, Alison - now in the last chance saloon?

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

Margaret Jaconelli and Glasgow City Council - last chance saloon to avert an injustice and a tragedy.… via @moridura