Glasgow City Council to turn walk in the park into legal minefield

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A hundred years ago, on 26th January 1914, a bomb exploded at Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens, one of many attacks on parks, gardens and artworks carried out by Suffragettes during their long campaign for votes for women.  It’s not for me to wonder why anyone would want to bomb a park but 100 years on, the threat posed to the Botanics by militant feminists has subsided somewhat. There are however, many modern horrors which befall any Glaswegian who goes to the park and with this in mind, Glasgow City Council have now revealed their proposals to “manage” our dear green places by ridding them of the scourge of…well… everything!

I can’t read the proposed “Park Management Rules” without imaging an officious teacher before a school trip, reeling off a list of things we’d never thought of but would now definitely be doing, just because we’d been told we couldn’t. It has never crossed my mind to race a remote controlled car round Alexandra Park but I’m tempted to run out and buy one, just before the Council bans it.  My mum often recounts a teacher warning her class before one outing, “this time, there will be no behaviour.”  If the council gets their way, “no behaviour” signs may begin appearing in parks across the city.

You can and should read the whole horrendous thing for yourself but since we love a list, here are a selection of things the council want to ban:

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Freedom of Assembly

People who’ve had a drink or a joint are completely banned while more sobers Glaswegians (whoever they are) must refrain from ever being near more than 18 other people. That any such baying mob could just occur naturally, on the rare occasions that the sun comes out, is beyond council comprehension. Of course, we should be incredibly concerned that they’ve made clear that asking your pals on Twitter whether they fancy a day trip could mean you fall foul of the rules. They actually say you’re not allowed to “organise or take part in any assembly.”  That could mean you are basically not allowed to meet anyone or even really be there under any circumstances, ever.

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Looks like a lot of assembling to me…

Doing Things

If you manage to negotiate the complex matrix of rules and sneak your way in, what you’re allowed to do in the park is pretty limited.  Don’t ever sing or dance, that might be classed as a performance and we’ll be having none of that.  Don’t say you’re going to the park “for a day in the sun” lest it be fall foul of the ban on “events.”  Again, scarily vague.

Radios

If you happen to have an ipod with an FM radio, make sure it has a “safe mode.”  As well as a ban on singing, music and instruments, there is also a ban on radio equipment.  Does this mean massive transmitters and walkie-talkies? – or does it mean just the radio?  Who knows…

Building a dam

One for the eager beavers amongst you, just in case you were wondering.jm05302

Recruiting for your paramilitary organisation

Quite why armed insurgents would be particularly perturbed by the mighty force of Land & Environmental Services is unclear but we’re sure the council must have some special intelligence.  With ALL the other rules against doing anything (and the fact that it would be illegal), it really is quite puzzling why there is a prohibition against both recruiting and drilling your personal army.  Coincidentally, the Tollcross Tigers Queer Liberation Front is seeking a new venue if anyone’s got any ideas…

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Sassy Saturday shootouts may now have to be held indoors

Sport

With the left cheek of the council’s arse belching about the Commonwealth Games and how sporty we’re all suddenly going to be, now they demolished loads of the East End, there’s some right cheek going on with this rule.  “Organised sport” is to be banned – there are already separate provisions for any kind of commercial activity, so this actually just means organising to be sporty. No running club, no Monday night kick about, stop being active and organised.

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Commonwealth Carnage Causer Clydezilla is angered by rival forms of organised sport

Learning things outside

They say knowledge is power, so the new provisions make clear that the acquisition of knowledge is off-limits.  “Outdoor education provision” makes the shalt-not list.  If you’re going to learn, make sure you’re indoors.

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“Is that a squirrel mummy?”
“Well, I would tell you but new Land & Environmental Service guidelines forbid it.”

Shaking your articles

In the “don’t do your washing” section – itself a bit of a riddy when you consider the history of Glaswegians going to Glasgow Green for this purpose – there is a specific ban on the shaking of your article. Hmmm…

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All joking aside, these rules are a further attempt to codify the council’s complete mismanagement of our public spaces and our city more generally. As if to hammer home the point, the rules make clear that the council reserve the right to convert any park into a commercial enterprise, should they so desire.

This is an attack on our shared space; an unnecessary “solution” to problems which don’t exist. Our parks are for everyone and that means jugglers and joggers and cocks with four dogs (who’ll have to leave one at home if GCC goes through with this) just as much as it means anyone else, whether I like that or not.

There are already ample laws and by-laws which protect our parks and us against people running a militia, a large assembly or even just having a fly can, without handing even more of our basic rights over to the council and its quangos. We’ve been capable of not bombing the Botanics for a hundreds years now without a set of ludicrous “don’t put beans in your nose” style proclamations from the City Chambers. We must resist any move to further banish sport and music and remind the council that we need many more spaces for these things, not less.

I’m not being hyperbolic when I talk about attacks on our human rights – these rules prevent people from doing very basic things.  It’s not that I think the Council is about to set up an arms length organisation of Park Terminators to eject anyone caught whistling but the fact is, these rules give them the power to do that and that’s a power they simply don’t need. Who benefits from these rules? Certainly not ordinary Glaswegians.

parks

I kept reading the rules and wondering – who or what is it they are really scared of?  Then you realise, it’s just us.  The council are terrified of people not just going to work and going into town, they’re scared they’ll be something they can’t commodify or count or make into a job for one of their cronies.  They don’t want us listening to free music or being outside with our pals, because we’re not spending money.  If you’re going for a jog with your mate, then you’re not over at Glasgow Life on the treadmill. If you’re sneaking a can on a sunny day, you’re not in the “East Merchant City” (lol) splurging your wages in a trendy bar. The sole concern of those running our city is enriching themselves, removing the less tourist friendly locals from view and making sure we’re all in the shops or in the house.

This is our city and these are our parks, the council are fortunate enough to manage them for us – we must now allow them to manage us out of them. I’d recommend you sign the petition and more importantly, read the rules and raise your objections to the council – but we also need to think about other kinds of resistance, should the need arise. I’m not suggesting we go for the full-on Suffragette thang but when the Council tells us not to assemble and shake our articles, we need to think about whether we need to do just that.

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Further Reading:

The Cone of Destiny: The People vs Glasgow City Council

Kelvingrove: How a street party became a royal fiasco

VIDEO: Glasgow’s Dirty Laundry

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Follow us on Twitter @unsavourycabal

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25 responses to “Glasgow City Council to turn walk in the park into legal minefield

  1. I can’t seem to open the pdf file containing the rules. Not really sure if it’s my netbook or the file in question; do you have it another format?

  2. This is great, I was with you right the way and then this happened.

    ‘If your going for a jog with your mate, then you’re not over at Glasgow Life on the treadmill. If your sneaking a can on a Sunny day, you’re not in the “East Merchant City” …”

    • I smell a whiff of commercialisation and gentrification going on. Feel free to come to your own conclusions about exactly why they’re choosing to be evil bastards if you don’t like mine…

  3. I think this goes beyond parks, the definition of park is pretty all encompassing:

    “Park” means any land or premises which is owned, occupied or managed by the Council or is otherwise under the control of the Council and to which the public has access, whether on payment or not and which is used for the purposes of recreation, games, sports or amusements or as a public playground, gardens, open space or
    path network and all buildings, structures, works, appliances and servitudes, rights, powers and privileges connected therewith and without prejudice to the foregoing generality shall include the area known as and comprising George Square, Glasgow. “

  4. I was one of numerous harassed residents who contacted GCC last summer after they closed Glasgow Green for several weekends back to back, for commercial events like The Stone Roses gig. After several weekends of being woken at the crack of dawn by PA systems being tested, overcrowding/litter issues, and general disruption provided by restricted access to the roads I spoke to GCC.The response I had from GCC is: “Glasgow Green, between Saltmarket and Peoples Palace is not a park, it has been designated performance space. GCC has invested heavily in this space, and will continue to promote and market it as performance space available for hire”. Still waiting for a response to my letter of complaint from last August. GCC puts profit before people.

  5. There are sinister undertows to this story. It could be that since they have to manage them, it would be cost effective to have as few people in them as possible. But it could also be as history shows, that with austerity comes unrest. The governments policies are similar in affect to those of Mrs Thatcher, in that they are causing a lot of people a lot of suffering. A further £12 billion in cuts this coming year. In times like these there is inevitably unrest and that can lead to violence, just look at the Middle East. And where do these people normally demonstrate ? Public places. Parks and squares. Also the question of independence. If you are against it, you don’t want people gathering in parks talking about it, or holding rallies. Or could it be a unionist plot to hinder the training of Scottish athletes in the hope they don’t perform well in the Commonwealth Games, thus giving weight to the better together campaign. Me, I think it’s to drive out drinking. The commonwealth games are coming and they don’t want the rest of the commonwealth to see the groups of unemployed youngsters hanging about in parks, drinking Buckfast and smoking weed. It has long been a pain in the butt for both the council and the police. No matter what the reason is, it is another of our civil liberties that is being denied to us by people we did not authorize to do so. When a council, or government, want to pass a law, statute or any other piece of legislation that will effect the common rights and liberties of the people, they should first get the consent of those people. Being elected as a councilor does not give you the right to run a city for your own agenda and any decision that will effect every person living within the city boundaries should only be made with the consent of a majority of the people living within those boundaries.

  6. Glasgow – dear green place – only if this GCC initiative is allowed to go ahead Glaswegians wont be allowed near them! You want our community charge – you allow us to use our parks and green places as we like – or we will expect a cut!

  7. Great article. Having walked my dog daily in Queens Park with all his wee dogies pals and walker mates these last 6 years, I can clearly see the dangers posed by unruly unregulated mobs in the park. Unwilling to stay at home with their unexercised pooches (which would cause its own problems) who would otherwise scare away visitors to the 2014 Games and clutter up the land grab that’s gonna take place after the Games are over.

    The Council clearly don’t trust Glaswegians to provide the ’appropriate’ welcome to our guests from across the world, I’m surprised there’s no rule about dressing in Council approved clothing. What are they afraid of, that visitors to the games might be offended by the local custom of being polite and thoughtful to other park users. Makes you realise what the Council really think of us.

    However, the real point of the new regulations and enforcement, is that once the parks have been cleansed of unproductive locals, thus making them ’safe’ for genuine visitors, as happened before the Beijing Olympics, the Council will be able to sell off the surplus land to the highest bidder. After all no one will be using the parks, and it’s not like that hasn’t happened before. Or is that a conspiracy theory too far?

  8. As a Glaswgian,I wrote to les@glasgow.gov.uk as follows: and so can you if you live in Glasgow:
    I am responding to the request for comments on the draft regulations for Glasgow parks http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=17964&p=0 [Rebecca: this is the link for the regulations]
    These regulations have not been properly thought through. The existing requirement that dogs be under control is sufficient, and should be enforced. No more is needed.
    The proposed requirement that all dogs be leashed or close to heel would, if enforced, deprive them of essential exercise and deprive Glasgow citizens including children of an important and educative pleasure. Do you even have a dog?

    Indeed, one fears what would happen if the dogs were never allowed to run. Such a frustrating restriction would greatly increase the risk of misbehaviour. What will you do when that happens? Ban dogs altogether?

    Moreover, professional dogwalkers will be penalised or forced out of business by the the restriction on the number of dogs that can be walked by one person, thus undermining small businesses that provide an essential service for the housebound and infirm, groups for whom pets are known to be of great therapeutic as well as emotional value.

    Your plan mentions the problem of dog nuisance. Your proposed remedies will do nothing to cure this, especially since dogwalkers have a direct professional interest in behaving responsibly, and will if anything make matters worse.

    I quote the regulations, sec. 4, animals:

    4.1 Dogs are allowed in parks unless a notice is posted otherwise, but must be kept on short lead or under close control. A short lead is a maximum of 2m long and close control means that the dog is able to respond to commands and is kept close at heel.

    4.3 No one shall in any park exercise any more than three dogs at any one time

    Respectfully,

    “Respectfully”W I confess, was a lie.

  9. I absolutely love this and agree with everything on it. I, myself, am a professional dog walker and feel my business is going to suffer from these rules. I understand there are irresponsible dog owners, like there are irresponsible everything’s, but for those of us not doing any harm and already obeying by rules, it’s just horrific. They are constantly battering on about the poor economy and how they encourage small businesses but those of us who use parks as our main business premises, including nurseries and personal trainers (again, contradicting with their promotion of health and fitness), will be suffering at the hands of the council! Terrible.

  10. Disgusting to think that I wont be able to meet my family in the park with our kids as there will be too many of us. I have six sisters and four brothers and if we count in our kids the tally goes to 24. I have done a bit of research though and if you google the words ‘matheson’, ‘council leader’, ‘park’ and ‘police’ then I think you may find some irony in the decision made by the council to issue some ludicrous restrictions on our green spaces.

  11. Hope that all Commonwealth Games visitors are warned and heaven help any of our UK neighbours who may bring Fido here for a holiday and haven’t heard of the dog rules. ( Why penalise the responsible owners?)
    To ban outdoor learning after all the research that shows the benefits that children get from being outdoors is madness. For a council which has allowed Forest School nurseries in Pollok Park to now ban it in other parks?! Hope that the lovely new Hillhead Primary heeds the rules. Othe councils seem to think that our young folk learn from looking at a nice view. They’d learn more from getting out there, getting mucky and having fun.
    Just to add that there is a group, “Friends of Maryhill Park”, who have spent Sundays tidying up the park by coppicing trees, planting bulbs and trimming overgrown shrubs etc. The park looks fantastic and GCC must be rubbing their hands in glee that community spirit has saved them the manpower. HOWEVER this group now have written a plan and in the “What will our park look like” section they wish a total ban on dogs.
    The Scottish Govt are proposing compulsory muzzling of all dogs along with other measures to show that they are to be seen acting on the Dangerous Dogs Act. Where is the money to fund all this lunacy?!

  12. I totally agree that the proposed plans are ludicrous and think they are being introduced to bring in revenue from fines issued. These regulations seem to cover almost everything you might wish to do by visiting our parks and open spaces whether with dogs, friends or even bagpipes!
    Look at what happened with the introduction of meters and loading bays in our residential areas; the arguments for the installation cited amongst others “the needs of loading vehicles”. This was, and still is a load of nonsense. I see tickets issued daily in the meter bays, meanwhile large vans parked up in the loading bay for days on end escape any punishment even although there is obviously no loading going on.
    I have signed petitions for various GCC proposals in the past but always found that they were forced through no matter what the people said.
    I really think these proposals are NOT in the best interests of the city or its residents.

  13. Dog walkers keep parks safer. Without us parks would be much emptier and less attractive from the security point of view. Dog walkers and dogs help to prevent crime (muggings, attacks, flashers and worse) We often know a lot about who and what is in the park.

  14. Utterly pitiful. I think a mass rally in the largest Glasgow Park for Independence is required. The council have it coming to them.

  15. People keep voting these idiots in the council back in, then moaning about them. It’s a labour controlled council. Kick them out, stop voting for them.
    Problem solved.

  16. Aren’t most of these regulations weak and/or ill-considered attempts to dissuade sectarian activities, e.g. the Orange March? It seems like that is a relevant consideration.

    • Nope. The Lodge are given complete freedom of the city despite there already being ample legislation which could be used to prevent that. The “anti-sectarian” laws are currently only used against political activists and Irish Scots. We’ve already had both legislation from Holyrood and directive from the City Chambers, all sold to us as being about the Orange Order, all just used against political activists instead.

      We do not need yet more rules preventing freedom of assembly, especially when it’s clear the laws we do have are so selectively enforced.

  17. I can’t believe that this is actually going ahead. The council seem to be scared of Glaswegians and want to keep us under as strict control as possible! But surely knowing the unruly lot they seem to be trying to keep out, they must realise that this is more likely to create a backlash than anything else. They clearly haven’t really thought it through but what they might end up with is even more organised gatherings, particularly at the commonwealth time, purely to P*** them off and protest against the rules.

    And as lets be clear that we do have a right to protest, so are they taking that away from us also? Restricting our human rights will surely be frowned upon by the EU if we do indeed need to make our application to join.

    The council seem to forget the fact that everyone in Glasgow infact owns them and thus we own the parks, and they only manage them on our behalf and should be in our best interests. I’m also curious about the dog situation, I think restricting dogs exercise will only lead to them being frustrated and more likely to misbehave. I wonder what the SSPCA’s position is on this.

    • Mmm Glasgow City council who are famous for their large volume of staff and the fact over 80% are of the same religion are trying to stop large groups meeting in the Park and where is it the Orangemen usually meet before or after their big march, thats right Glasgow Green

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