Testing times ahead for Glasgow’s head teacher

Glasgow has serious problems, but its council leader FRANK McAVEETY aims to sort them out with the same tough talking he has used in the classroom.

Words: Kathleen Morgan

SLEAZE, CUT-BACKS AND the legacy of his predecessor Pat Lally. These are the issues Glasgow’s council leader Frank McAveety is grappling with during his first months in office and few would envy the task.

The 35-year-old Springburn-born teacher renowned for his QUick-fire Glasgow patter and love of pop music has his work cut out. As he sits down to a string of press interviews in his City Chambers office, a protest against a planned school closure is in full swrng outside.

St Augustine’s in Milton is one of seven city schools targeted in a bid to cut Council spending by up to £47 million Angry parent Joe Kerr is among the demonstrators: ’l’ve put

will be forever linked to Glasgow’s

Raised in :l

McAveety's wish-list: a mayor, civic pride and Radiohead?

tenement by his cleaner mother and

eleven of a family through that school,’ he says. 'Councillor McAveety has got a job to do, to save money, but we’ve got a job to do as parents.’

The Wind of change is also blowing down Glasgow City Council corridors in the effort to save money. McAveety is planning to shake-up the Council’s 21 admin-heavy departments, which could result in redundancies for top offiCials. He has launched a standards commission following sleaze allegations against Labour counCillors, including Provost Lally. And he recently proposed the Provost should be a US-style mayor elected by the people not chosen by councillors.

McAveety insists he will stick by his promise that the Council will serve Glasgow people, not itself; ’There’s a need to open up the Council it needs to be more outward looking. People need to be reassured that community government works for their benefit.’ That means reinvesting every penny saved from school closures back into education, he adds.

Whatever Pat Lally's current predicament, his name

Mr Happy logo, which smiled down on the city chosen as Europe’s cultural capital for 1990. Can McAveety match Lally’s successful crusade to change Glasgow’s image7

‘Pat Lally had an advantage,’ said McAveety 'He was working with stable economics.‘ McAveety has a radically different City Council to run - 1996's local government reorganisation means Glasgow has fewer Council Tax payers to fund its inner crty problems. ’l’m inheriting substantial aCCUmulative reductions,’ he

says bluntly. 'l have to redefine what the Council can do.’

It will take wit, guts and stubbornness if McAveety is to turn around an institution traditionally run by an Old Guard. He appears to have all three They helped him bring Radio 1’s mUSIC festival Sound City to Glasgow in 1994, pavrng the way for Glasgow's annual gigfest the Ten-Day Weekend

It will take wit, guts and stubbornness if McAveety is to turn around an institution traditionally run by an old guard.

labourer father, Mr Aveer studied history and English at Strathclycle University before training as a teacher. His working class roots and part—time JOb at St Brendan's secondary school, Linwood, have made his decisions about Glasgow's school closures all the more difficult He has had to get them right.

His love of pop music and sense of fun a have fired his ClifllllSlcl‘Jll for forging links between the Council and music promoters. His goal is to bring outdoor gigs to the city, especially after i in The Park's move from Strathclyde Park to Kinros’s. ivchveety would like to see his favourite bancf Radiohead headlining a major outdoor event in Glasgow

He insists any attempt to restore what he calls Glasgow's 'civic‘ pride' must go hand in hand with efforts to raise literacy levels in the (W and create a Council young people can believe in With McAveety at its helvn, that seems possible

And finally . . . Scots facing a fistful ofsorrows i. M *

PERHAPS WE SHOULD be grateful we are getting our own Parliament and just put up and shut up when other things go against us but Scots appear to be under attack from all quarters. Scottish smokers and the over 755 must be feeling pretty paranoid - not to mention wheezy - after the announcement that health chiefs are thinking of cutting waiting lists by refusing them cardiac surgefy. While the policy may be statistically logical, how about the lack of humanity involved? Serves them right for being addicts and old, one assumes. And as for the devolved homeland's national anthem? We suggest Scotland The Grave.

BEFORE PRIVATISATION, TRAIN operators were on the receiving end of frequent ribbing about their notorious tardiness. It was all pretty funny until services were sold off.

All their ills have failed to be cured. with Virgin Trains the worst offenders. While the service down south is little to shout about, up here punctuality targets are little more than theoretical with the West Coast Scottish service being singled out for barbed criticism. Still, trust Virgin to come up with a great excuse, like their service being less than perfect due to a collapsed bridge. They are fast becoming the Group 4 of the rail network.

THE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING strained relations between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair is sure to be grist for the conspiracy theorists' mill. Tony's crown - or should that be halo? - has slipped substantially in recent months and Brown is perhaps the sole Scottish candidate to be the next leader. Of the only other potentials, Robin Cook has surely blown it with his adulterous shenanigans and Donald Dewar is, well. Donald Dewar. Those hoping

Clint: confusing the Welsh

for the next Labour leader to be Scottish may have to wade through much blood before that is realised.

WITH ALL THIS negativity floating

around, it's hardly surprising Scots

see themselves as numpties when it

comes to world trivia. Yet a poll carried out by the Royal Mail shows that we are trumping our neighbours in the knowing stuff stakes. Still, the competition is risible one out of every 25 Welsh asked actually believed that Clint Eastwood was the US president while 100% of Scots got it right. Funnily enough, whether

Bill Clinton said something along the

lines of 'go ahead Paula, make my day’, is pretty much the key issue in

' a certain high profile US court case at the moment. Spooky.

, MOST SCOTS ALSO identified the

Drachma as the Greek currency

1 without a problem. Unfortunately,

some wags will undoubtedly see our knowledge of foreign cash as reason to resurrect weary gags about our obsession with money and the pinching of pennies.

' (Brian Donaldson)

23 Jan-S Feb 1998 THEUSTSE‘