Bill Kidd, SNP MSP for the Glasgow region, has welcomed the support from Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham, for the North Kelvin Meadow.
The North Kelvin Meadow Campaign is a community group, set up in October of last year, to campaign for the disused green space, between Clouston Street and Kelbourne Street – the area of the former Clouston Street playing fields – to be turned into a multi-use community green space for local residents.
The campaign was set up after Glasgow City Council rejected the results of a survey, conducted in August of last year, which showed that local residents overwhelmingly supported the creation of a community growing project on the former playing fields. The Council intends to sell the land to a property developer for the building of flats.
On 21 August 2009, the campaign group was taken to court by the Glasgow City Council for improving their local area. The sheriff upheld a limited interdict ad interim against two named campaigners only, preventing them from putting up bat boxes and installing new raised beds. The sheriff said the campaigners ‘had done only good’.
Bill Kidd’s actions came at Question Time in Parliament on 4th September, when he asked Roseanna Cunningham if she was aware of the case of the North Kelvin Meadow in Glasgow. Mr Kidd emphasised the point that the local residents had been evicted from the green space by Glasgow City Council, despite there being no immediate plans to develop the ground.
In reply, the Environment Minister, Roseanna Cunningham said: "Given the extent of the media coverage, I guess that few people will be unaware of the current situation in Glasgow—and, indeed, of the advent of guerrilla gardeners throughout the country.
"The Government is working, alongside various public bodies, to examine potential further provision of allotments and community gardens. We know that there is great unmet demand for both. However, we hope that Glasgow City Council, which is the decision-making body in the north Kelvin meadow case, would have regard to the work that the national health service is doing to support a number of projects on health board land and, similarly, Scottish Natural Heritage's support for such initiatives.”
Commenting, outside the Chamber, Mr Kidd said: "I am pleased that the Environment Minister has recognised the need for derelict and unused land to be brought more into community use.
"The North Kelvin Meadow provides a chance for local people to come together to turn around a disused piece of land, after decades of neglect under the ownership of Glasgow City Council, in the name of community spirit and pride. This is the kind of thing that Glasgow City Council should be, even in the short-term, encouraging; certainly not censuring.
"I am encouraged by the Minister’s comparisons between the negative attitudes of local authorities, like Glasgow City Council and the positive stances of the National Health Service in Scotland and Scottish National Heritage. These organisations are working with local residents to bring derelict land into community use."