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November 4, 2009

Bats to the rescue

In recent months, LPL has covered the ups and downs of the North Kelvin Meadow Campaign (including court appearances) because it exemplifies just how far removed a council can become from the communities they are supposed to serve. Undaunted by the Council’s continued opposition, the local community have come up with a new strategy, perhaps inspired by Halloween, to keep hold of their land

Jasper Mill

Former playing fields between Clouston Street and Kelbourne Street in the city’s west end had lain derelict and been used as a dumping ground for almost 25 years. But then locals from the North Kelvin Meadow Campaign decided to turn them into a public garden and allotments, filled with ­flowers and vegetables.

Glasgow City Council had other ideas, though, and dismissed the plan, earmarking the land for sale to a ­property developer for 115 flats.

Scottish Natural Heritage donated £250 for the group to place bat boxes on the site, but Glasgow City Council refused to allow their construction and issued an interdict banning two local campaigners from building there.

Now locals, backed by the Green Party, have built the boxes anyway, hoping they will attract significant numbers of bats, a protected species which cannot be moved once settled.

One local, who did not want to be named, said: “We’ve been renovating the land for over a year and we’ll continue. There are around 100 people who have been working here, in the face of court action and threats from the council.

“The bat boxes are part of a struggle to keep the land for community use.”

Patrick Harvie, joint convener of the Green Party party, said: “Local people are continuing to look after this piece of land, bringing it into community use with some benefit to biodiversity. That’s how we should be using a city’s green space.

“The city council seems to have forgotten that the land exists to serve the needs of the local community and it is instead merely serving the needs of a property developer.”

The council has said it will allow the group to use the land until developers begin work.