Friday, 7 February 2020

Glasgow, Public Spending and Equal Pay

The Guardian reports on the costs of the COP26 'climate change' conference which is due to be held in Glasgow later this year.

The GMB union recently queried whether this kind of hugely expensive event is the best use of public resources - see post below dated 22/01/20.

I have to say the union has a fair point, especially if the 'powers that be' say they can't or won't support other equally pressing local and national spending priorities.

Cost of policing COP26 in Glasgow 'could exceed £200m'

Head of Police Scotland says UN climate gathering will mean ‘acute operational demands’ 

By Libby Brooks -The Guardian

The cost of policing the UN climate conference in Glasgow this November could exceed £200m, according to Scotland’s chief constable, who said it was “fanciful” to suggest that hosting one of the largest events ever staged in the UK would not have an impact on the wider community.

Iain Livingstone, the head of Police Scotland, told a board meeting of the Scottish Police Authority on Friday that accommodation for officers alone – many of whom will be drafted from forces in England and Wales – could cost “tens of millions”.

He added: “Candidly, it is my professional opinion that any suggestion that the climate change conference will not impact on the wider community of Scotland is fanciful.”

Warning of the “acute operational demand” posed by the climate conference and preparations around Brexit, he described Police Scotland’s capital budget as “derisory”.

Last week, Scotland’s auditor general, Caroline Gardner, told MSPs at a Holyrood committee that protecting officer numbers to deal with Brexit had taken policing budgets into a forecast deficit of £42m.

During the 12 days from 9 November, an estimated 30,000 visitors including potentially 200 world leaders will attend the UN’s 26th conference of the parties, known as COP26, at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) on the River Clyde in the centre of Glasgow.

A report on policing the conference presented to the meeting for discussion also explained that the SEC would be handed over to the UN for the duration of the conference, becoming international territory – known as the blue zone – and thus subject to international law.

“Discussions are ongoing with senior law officers and the UN to determine how Police Scotland will record and investigate any crimes which occur within the Blue Zone,” says the report.

Scotland’s justice secretary, Humza Yousaf, has previously said he expects core costs including policing to be borne by the UK government.

• This article was amended on 23 January 2020. Because of an incorrect figure in a Police Scotland report, an earlier version said that an estimated 90,000 visitors were expected at COP26. Police Scotland have since amended that figure to 30,000 visitors.

Embarrassment To The Trade Union Movement (22/01/20)

Facebook photo of South Lanarkshire's Stephen Smellie alongside Jeremy Corbyn who in December 2019 led the Labour Party to its worst general election defeat since 1935

A kind reader sent me this Facebook post from Stephen Smellie (pronounced 'Smiley' not Smelly) who is the long standing secretary of the local Unison branch in South Lanarkshire Council.

"The GMB call for COP26 to be taken away from Glasgow is an embarrassment to the trade union movement. This is the union movement's opportunity to ensure that our demands for a Just Transition to a low carbon economy is front and centre in the discussions. It is not the Council who will be funding policing or the other costs and in fact the city stands to make money out of the event due to the numbers visiting. Instead of grandstanding Comrade Smith should get behind the effort to mobilise workers behind those fighting for a future for new industries and new jobs for the trade union members of the future."

How rude, I said to myself when I read Stephen's comments and if you ask me, Stephen has a cheek calling anyone an embarrassment to the trade union movement, for the reasons set out below:

1) Stephen Smellie and the local Unison branch actively discouraged union members from pursuing equal pay claims against South Lanarkshire Council back in 2008/09.

2) Stephen Smellie gave evidence in support of the Council  Management Case at the long running Employment Tribunal hearing over equal pay back in 2013. Mark Irvine gave evidence in support of the largely female Claimants - who won, of course.

3) Stephen Smellie has been the branch secretary of Unison in South Lanarkshire Council for the past 21 years ever since the year 2000 in fact. So for all this time Unison has been 'led' by the same bloke while women make up 70% of the union  membership. 

By the way, I think Gary Smith has a point about how best to spend hundreds of millions of pounds in Glasgow, especially when the city is paying for the huge cost of delivering equal pay without any financial support from the Scottish Government. 

So far at least.  


Glasgow, Spending and Climate Change (17/01/20)

The GMB union has a pop the at the eye-watering costs of hosting a major climate change summit later this year,  making the case that there are far more important things on which to spend 'several hundred million' pounds.

Read the full article in the link below to the Evening Times and decide for yourself.

GMB union calls for Glasgow to call off major COP26 climate change summit

By Catriona Stewart - Evening Times

A UNION has called for Glasgow to "ditch" hosting a major climate change summit later this year saying the city has its "priorities all wrong".

It emerged today that policing costs for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) will run into "several hundred million pounds".

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for Westminster to honour a pledge to cover the costs that will be incurred by Police Scotland.

But GMB Scotland says the policing costs will "sicken" frontline council staff and said the event should be moved elsewhere.

GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith said: "The prospect of hundreds of millions of pounds of public money spent on policing costs alone will sicken frontline council staff and struggling local communities.

“The world’s political elite will fly in and out of Glasgow later in the year but the city’s many challenges will remain the day after the circus leave town.

“What exactly are we hoping to showcase by hosting this summit?

“Glasgow waste crisis is getting worse – you only need to look at the latest footage of the conditions facing cleansing workers on a daily basis.

“Our home carers are working alone on foot at night to provide basic home care help for some of our most vulnerable citizens.

“The council needs to find an additional £250 million to settle residual equal pay claims for tens of thousands of council staff past and present.

“It also needs to replace its discriminatory WPBR with a new job evaluation system lifts up the pay and conditions of chronically low-paid staff."

An estimated 90,000 people, including around 200 world leaders, will attend the UN’s COP26 summit over 12 days in November.

A report by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) estimates security costs for the event could run to "several hundred million pounds".

The Scottish Government has maintained the bill should be footed by the UK Government, which is hosting the event.

Ms Sturgeon said she welcomes the fact the event is being held in Scotland, but discussions will need to be held over the costs involved.

She earlier told Radio Clyde News: "The UK Government has committed to meeting the policing and other costs and it’s important that they honour that commitment in full, and the Scottish Government will be looking forward to productive discussions to make sure that’s the case."

But Mr Smith added: “Our priorities are all wrong.

"The best thing government could do for Glasgow is to ditch hosting the COP and instead invest the money in dealing with the state of the city.”

A Glasgow City Council said: “Climate change is the biggest issue of our times and any suggestion it should not be considered a priority is extraordinary.

“The simple fact is that COP is of huge significance, both locally and globally.

"Hosting the event presents major opportunities for Glasgow, its communities and the local economy.”