The razor kings of 60s Glasgow housing schemes. as depicted in Gillies Mackinnon‘s acclaimed Scottish movie Small Fares. may be a thing of the past. but the problem remains of how to steer young people away from drugs and gang culture. according to community leaders.
One man can claim to have done more than most to offer alternatives to the area's young people. The weightlifting club Alex Richardson runs in Easterhouse boasts more amateur British champions than any other club in Britain. and he is now spearheading an attempt to apply his successful approach to other sports.
The territorial tensions highlighted in Small Fares are still a problem. according to Richardson: ‘There are fourteen different gangs in Easterhouse and though we don‘t have to publicise that they exist we have to privately deal with them.’ he said.
By encouraging under-twelves to participate. Richardson argues. young people are less likely to be sucked into
a life of drugs and gangs. Last year he launched a Gladiators scheme based on the popular TV series in which kids from different areas compete constructively against each other. He is now trying to raise £1 million to implement his sports development strategy in Easterhouse. built around a leisure management course at the area's John Wheatley College.
‘The other issue is drugs and the only way to tackle the dealers is take their market away. If we flood the area with sport we can keep youngsters off the streets at a difficult age and teach them some self-rcspect.‘ Richardson adds.
Mackinnon was dissuaded from plans to call his film ‘Easterhouse‘ after meetings with residents of the massive peripheral housing scheme which has consistently born the brunt of bad publicity about social deprivation on Glasgow estates.
Community groups in Easterhouse have worked tirelessly to combat the negative image and believed the film‘s working title could set back their
Easterhouse shedding the weight of a gangland reputation
'1 4 r P P ft 9 x h i " ‘ - ‘\ ’ ‘I c ' 3 u l I \ ‘ .‘ $~ vu N“ . m- , g I I“; I . - A 3".“ . ’ 9:" ’ , J . I. ‘ f 1"; I l ‘
Small Faces: Difficult choices for youngsters 0
work. though the final film has a positive message about the importance of family and community.
The Greater Easterhouse Initiative made the initial approach to Mackinnon and the BBC Scotland producers. After seeing the film. they accept it does have a positive
it Glasgow’s estates message. but believe they were right to disassociate themselves from the movie.
‘lt's a good film and was well reviewed btrt the amount of publicity it would have generated would not have been helpful for the area.‘ a staff member explained. (Eddie Gibb)
Fears over race hate propaganda
Racist leafletting in a Scots town has sparked an angry response and fears that race-related incidents may result. The leaflets, which bear a crude Union Jack and the words ‘BNP - Fuck off all Packies’ (sic) were left on cars in Brightons, near Falkirk.
There were 68 racist incidents reported to the Central Scotland Racial Equality Council (CSREC) last year in the old Falkirk district. Campaigners fear the figure may rise if this is part of a recruitment drive by the British National Party (RNP).
‘If they are successful we could see an increase in incidents such as attacks, verbal abuse and graffitti,’ said CSREC director Mukami McCrrIn. ‘Dur main fear is they will target young people who sometimes don’t have access to alternative information. Youth groups and schools should be active in counteracting such propaganda.’
Falkirk councillor David Spiers, who lives in Brightons, had his own car leafletted. lle condemned those responsible as cowards. ‘They did this under the cover of darkness. I’d love to speak to these people on any platform, but they don’t want to operate like that.’
The MP were actively trying to recruit among football fans at Falkirk’s Brockville football ground two years ago, but made no headway according to Spiers. ‘They got short change there from the supporters, who chased them away,’ he said. The BllP have not claimed responsibility for the Ieafletting, but in a letter to the local paper defended their right to recruit and claimed their publicity isn’t racist. (Stephen flaysmith)
Council at cross-purposes over drug tactics
The work of a Glasgow drugs education group has been paralysed by the confusion surrounding comments on ecstasy made by social work boss Mary llartnoll.
The climate of tension caused by the media furore over llartnoll’s comments, comparing of the risk of taking ecstasy with that of taking aspirin, has handicapped the efforts of Enhance, which aims to educate for safer use of recreational drugs.
Before Strathclyde Regional Council was disbanded, it funded the project which was launched last month.
However, in February, the City of Glasgow Council licensing board
came out strongly against ‘chilI-out’ areas and other measures for safer drug use in clubs and the project’s work is being threatened before it starts.
‘We have a number of events lined up to do,’ says Willie McBride, manager of Enhance, ‘but the ground is shaky. Clubs don’t think we are promoting drug use, but they think the licensing board are opposed to what we do."
Fear of compromising future license applications is making some reluctant to give Enhance access. ‘The stark reality for our project is that there are Glasgow promoters and
club owners who would happily have us in but don’t feel able to, given this uncertainty,’ McBride explains.
‘We hope the new city of Glasgow council gets some sort of unified position on this as soon as possible. I believe views are not as polarised as the media make out, and we are still optimistic.’
A spokesperson for the council admitted that their policies could be seen as contradictory, but blamed the problems on reorganisation. ‘There is a need for all the departments to sit down and come to a compromise about policy,’ she said. (Stephen Naysmith)
Destinations still unknown for cities’ police boxes
When a battered old blue police box
disappears completely and re-appears in a strange location. it usually means you're watching classic British sci-fi.
However shoppers in Glasgow‘s Buchanan Street have been halted in their tracks recently by the ‘Tardis‘. resited in the busy thoroughfare as part of the revamping of the city centre.
Rather dusty alongside the designer boutiques and showpiece Princes Square. the dematerialisation from its original site at Royal Exchange Square was forced by rapid pedestrianisation work in front of Glasgow's new Gallery of Modern Art.
Further up Buchanan Street another blue box. long standing prey to vandals and the ubiquitous flyposting brigade. languished on the perimeter of the proposed John Lewis department store site. When updated plans for the Buchanan Galleries project were approved in January. this box too vanished into thin air.
The prosaic explanation is that the box is in the Glasgow Council‘s Queenslie Depot for restoration work. A new position is still to be finalised.
Head of Development and (‘ontrol Alan Montgomery. hinted the council had ‘plans‘ for the box shifted away from the Art Gallery. However a council spokesperson said no further details could be released at present.
The city‘s four remaining police boxes have Category B-listed status as monuments of historical interest. and are jointly owned by the council and Strathclyde Police.
In Edinburgh. where some l5 police boxes are presently listed. a decision is pending on the council purchasing a box recently moved onto the High Street from Hunter Square. They plan on leasing it to the owner of a nearby newspaper stand; while an unlisted box in Lauriston Place could be converted into a bijou street vending kiosk.
However. just like the good Doctor‘s
The Tardis: Scotland’s models relocating
Tardis. the police boxes are obsolete models. In London. a high-tech. multi- lingual rival was launched recently. The mobilc police information service may also be deployed in Scotland and no-one is sure if the old Tardis can compete. Still. from the outside. appearances can be deceptive. (Deirdre Molloy)
4 The List 19 Apr-2 May I996