Southern comfort

Shawlands Cross
Shawlands Cross

LET me begin by stipulating a vested interest in the subject: I am a southsider and have been since birth.

Oh, yes, I lived for a while in the leafy splendour that is the westend.

Liked it too — it was the first place I lived where you could stagger into a shop at 2am and buy a tin of Campbell’s meatballs to satisfy your post-club starvation which seemed, at the time, to be encroaching on third-world levels.

It was also a very cosmopolitan area, being (temporary) home to people from around the world — students, we used to call them. Yes, it was a pretty cool place to be... for a time.

I have always regarded the westend in the same way I regard Edinburgh — a fantastic place to visit, but as long as you know you can come home.

And my home is south of the Clyde (besides, the westend isn’t that exclusive any more).

The outward-looking aspect that singled it out as unique is now shared with the southside.

People are more free in the way they dress, I would match any of the pubs in the south with anything you can find in Hillhead, there is just as much an artistic resonance in areas such as Shawlands... and you can buy a tin of Campbell’s meatballs at 2am.

But there is disquiet among the populace.

People feel they are not given the same treatment that is generously handed out to folk in the west and Merchant city.

Both those areas do seem to be at the top of the spending agenda when it comes to opening the public purse.

And the concern currently being elocuted over the state of Shawlands arcade is well justified. I well remember the arcade being a bustling centre of activity with shops aplenty.

Councillor Coleshill seems to have hit the nail on the head when he summed it up as “failed 60s architecture sitting in a working, 19th century shopping high street”.

Investment must be found for this area and soon.

Councillor Meikle wants “a cleaner, greener and safer place to live and work”.

Similarly, councillor Dornan has stated that, in the short term, there could be “a general tidy-up of the area, better lighting and a resurfacing of the roads”.

There you have definitive statements from three of our city councillors, all pledging their commitment to the betterment of the southside.

It would be good if we could all push party politics to one side — even over a single issue — and band together for the good of the area.

There’s not much can inspire people more than warring factions willing to put down their arms and group together to fight for the common good.

The southside is an excellent place to live as it is: but it could be so much more.

We already have bars and restaurants of the highest quality, excellent parks and some great housing and architecture.

Let’s see what can be done to make this once more a thriving hub that people can take pride in — there’s so much more to Glasgow than the westend and the city centre.

I would like to give the final comment to Andrew Montgomery, chair of Shawlands and Strathbungo community council, who said last week: “Councillors need to listen to the passion of local people and take responsibility”.