Divestment,  East Kilbride East,  Helping you,  Kirsten Robb,  Local,  Space to Play

Councillor Update, February/March 2023

There has been a slight delay to my monthly update this month as it’s been very busy both on a ward level and South Lanarkshire wide – but all good stuff, so read on!

Contact me if I can help you with anything – a reminder that I don’t have surgeries in order to leave more time for community work, but I’d love to meet when and where it suits you or can come and visit your group. You can also Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates.

Local Business (East Kilbride East)

First up, Long Calderwood Parent Council and I have been working on an application to the lottery for pitch equipment for many months now. This month, we heard that it has been successful with an award of over £9000! This will bring football goals and basketball hoops to the pitch, a great asset for the school and community.

Thanks to the council Grounds guys for continuing to help with some small improvements to the kick about at Cornfoot / Hunters area I raised in response to community wishes. No dog fouling sign put up, grass spiked to improve drainage, holes filled and reseeded, mat at entrance helping reduce mud.

Warm Welcome Hubs’: Our community is lucky to have three locations (Hunter House, Claremont Parish and Moncrieff Church) where you can drop in for a cuppa and get support, activities and other services. Search for your nearest hub and find out days, times and services by clicking this link.

I joined EK Community Litter Picking volunteers to give Stoneymeadow Woods a good spring clean with a haul of 30 bags of rubbish!! On Sunday 19th at 2pm we meet to work on Glen Shee woods (meet on the footpath at the top of the woods, adjacent to St Leonards Road), clearing the remaining litter, cutting back vegetation from paths (the council has already cleared the fallen trees blocking the path) and removing invasive snowberry – all to improve this area for walking and play.

Calderglen Volunteers and I were out again tackling the invasive snowberry plant (see photo) to make way for more bluebells – find out about the monthly volunteering here . On the first Sunday in April, we are improving the path into Calderglen at Nithsdale, removing litter and cutting back snowberry. I also liaised with Scottish Water to get the footpaths around their works reopened at Glen Tanner as quickly as possible.

In other meet ups, I went along to St Leonards Community Council, discussed health in the community with medical students and met community development students to share reflections and learning with our Space to Play campaign.

South Lanarkshire Wide Business

It’s been incredibly busy time with council-wide work too and I experienced my first council budget.

I abstained in the vote on the South Lanarkshire budget due to a lack of information on its climate impact – check out my speech here. With millions of pounds still going into projects which expand roads, and therefore increases car traffic and emissions, I felt it could undermine the council plan which seeks to address climate change. I will be pushing for climate impact assessments to be done to make sure that any increases in emissions from council projects are identified and reduced. In addition, I was only given 10 minutes to look through the budget proposals, which is not enough time to make an informed decision.

However, I did secure changes to the council’s investment strategy to open up accounts with certain building societies which have a better track record on the environment and to engage with their other banks to ensure that South Lanarkshire money does not fuel the climate or nature crisis. This was off the back of my successful motion requesting that Strathclyde Pension Fund divests from fossil fuels and that South Lanarkshire money should not be used to fuel the climate or nature crises.

Over the last decades, children’s play has been affected by many things including the closure of play parks, building on greenspaces, increased traffic, no ball games signs and perhaps even changing attitudes to play. But children have not had a voice in any of these changes. This is why change is needed and why Space to Play South Lanarkshire campaigners and I brought a motion to last week’s full council. Change wasn’t happening fast enough for us or our communities so we are very happy that further action will now be taken to involve our youth in developing more opportunities to play.

Meanwhile at the climate committee, I raised the importance of further action to reduce pesticide use as well as increasing food sources for pollinators. I’m also really pleased to see some of us councillors complete our first ever training to become climate literate, it’s so important that we make informed decisions with the climate in mind.

In other sessions visited the energy-from-waste site at Dunbar, where some of South Lanarkshire’s black bag, non recyclable waste goes. I attended the EK Licensing Board committee, the Community Wealth Building Commission and raised out of school hours access to play when the Executive Committee discussed the refurbishment of Our Lady of Lourdes School. I also attended a briefing on the National Planning Framework 4 and went to the launch of the South Lanarkshire youth strategy. Children and young people may only get the vote at 16 but it’s important that decisions, services and politicians are informed by listening to, engaging, supporting and acting on youth concerns.

And finally, just last week was International Woman’s Day. South Lanarkshire held such an inspiring event where I heard about the great work of the Lanarkshire Rape Crisis Centre, Women’s Aid South Lanarkshire And East Renfrewshire (WASLER) and gender based violence unit at NHS Lanarkshire. With the inspirational Leanne Crichton speaking too, it makes me even more determined to push to #EmbraceEquity for women now and forever.