Light The Way protest at Kelvingrove Park for improved lighting in Glasgow’s parks

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Kelvingrove Park saw a mass gathering last night for the ‘Light The Way’ campaign which seeks to get better lighting in Glasgow’s parks.

#LightTheWay was organised by radio stations, Clyde 1 and 2 to highlight the safety concern for women and vulnerable groups walking through parks in Glasgow with little light.

The call for improved lighting in parks across the city was brought to the forefront after people were forced to take long detours through a pitch-black Kelvingrove Park because of COP26.

Radio Clyde’s Cassie leads countdown for demonstrators who ‘Light the Way’ to ensure a safer environment for women and vulnerable people in Glasgow, Credit: Billy Gaddi

Labour & Co-op MSP for Glasgow, Paul Sweeney, spoke on the impact of COP26 on Glasgow.

He said: “COP26 might have been a lot of things but for Glaswegians, it felt like something that was happening to them rather than with them.

“I think never starker the inequality it demonstrated was the night when VIPs were attending a banquet in the Kelvingrove art galleries and the citizens of Glasgow were forced without notice to walk a massive mile and a half long detour through this dark park without prevision or consideration of their welfare.

“I think that was a shocking state of affairs and it demonstrated the way in which subconscious bias is at the heart of a lot of the problems we face in Glasgow and how our built environment excludes a lot of people because it is not taken into consideration.”

Paul Sweeney
Paul Sweeney as he is elected as a Member of Parliament for Glasgow North East in 2017, Credit: Chris McAndrew, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

 

For many people walking in complete darkness is not normal but for 46-year-old runner, Danny Philips, he is not only used to walking in complete darkness but running in it.

Danny is a member of the Bellahouston Roadrunners and explains what it is like running in these conditions in the video below:

Danny Phillips describes why it was important for him to attend the #LightTheWay demonstrations, Credit: Billy Gaddi

COP26 left many west-end residents, including lone women, having to walk through a dark Kelvingrove Park to access their homes.

One Twitter user professed his anger because his mum and female students had to walk through the park.

See Tweet below:

MSP Paul Sweeney commented on people having to walk through Kelvingrove Park because of COP26 on Twitter.

See Tweet below:

Incidents have occurred in Kelvingrove Park and other parks in Glasgow where there are little to no lighting.

For example, Moira Jones was raped and murdered in Queens Park in Glasgow in 2008 as she returned from a night out.

To read the full story click here: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/apr/08/slovakian-jailed-murder-glasgow

MSP Paul Sweeney was outraged that the city has not learned from incidents like this and others across the city.

He said: “Six years ago less than 200 metres from where we are standing a young lady was murdered and nothing was done about the fact that it was largely in part because someone was able to pray on her, stalk her home and abduct her walking through Kelvingrove Park at night.

“That is something we need to address. We need to address the fact that no serious long-term learning was taken from that case.

“It was just accepted as an unfortunate tragedy, and we had to move on from it.

“The opportunity was presented to the murderer because of the unsafe built environment around here.

“If we can take something out of COP26 is taking something out of this campaign and making key routes through this park and other parks like it accessible for people to get to different communities. Allowing them to feel confident and safe.”

A police presence at Light The Way demonstration after many criticised the lack of it when people were forced through the park during COP26, credit: Billy Gaddi

The YWCA are an intersectional feminist group and organisation, who for the last 10-months have conducted research into how to make parks safer and more accessible for women and non-binary people.

A report published by the YWCA found that 95% of young women feel unsafe visiting parks at night.

YWCA member Holly Bruce spoke about what Glasgow need to do to make women feel safe.

She said: “Young women do not feel safe travelling around Glasgow especially at night.

“Cities like Glasgow are typically designed by men, for men, with a lack of consideration for the needs of women and non-binary folk.

“Glasgow must step up and start codesigning its communities for all who live and work in them.

“Glasgow must do better.”

The comparison to how safe women feel on buses compared with parks at night, Credit: YWCA, Billy Gaddi

A motion was lodged in the Scottish Parliament on the 22nd of November by MSP Paul Sweeney to improve lighting in Glasgow parks.

Paul Sweeney spoke about the motion.

He said: “The reality is our parks are amazing assets.

“5,100 acres (of parkland in Glasgow) and this proposal is less than 1% of that. This nonsense that it will affect biodiversity and wildlife is a total red herring.

“The dismissiveness that this campaign was initially treated with was shameful and that should be called out. It is about time that the city showed greater humility to people’s valid, genuine concerns and that is what we are trying to achieve with this campaign.”

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