It has been announced today that MSPs have decided to put the Portobello Park private bill, which seeks to circumvent the ruling by three senior judges of the Court of Session prohibiting the development of Portobello park or any other inalienable common good land, to the vote on 26 June. This comes as no surprise – evidence sessions were cut short, not all objections were heard, not all questions were answered but, such is the desperation to railroad this bill through, the objections of more than 500 people and many others have been swept to one side. The council has declined to make the “new park” part of the bill, despite the fact that it was suggested by PPAG and one of the bill committee. A clear indication that they have no intention of creating one and conveniently there is no mechanism for the parliament to call the council to account if (when) they do not follow through on their promises. There will be a “debate” in parliament on 26 June but we know already how the vote will go as many MSPs without knowing anything about the issues stated their intention to support the bill way back before it was even lodged. The merits or otherwise of the bill have not been properly scrutinised and a political decision has been taken. Never mind that it puts all common good land across Scotland at risk.

Please e-mail your constituency and list MSPs now and ask them to vote “NO” to the bill.


  1. Where to begin? Almost every sentence of this post is wrong. Opponents to the proposed building of the school on the park have been offered, have taken, and have abused every opportunity to make their opinions known. There have been four 2 or 3-hour sessions of the Parliamentary Committee where objectors could present their views and challenge the promoters – a total of more than 8 hours. More than enough time to present their case, but they were so incompetent and so contemptuous of the democratic process that they frittered away that time in objections that were factually wrong, beyond the scope of the committee, or repetitions of previous points. So if they ran out of time they have no-one to blame but themselves. Some of their hints at Council or Parliamentary incompetence, corruption or coercion were frankly libellous. The City Council have made every effort to reassure local residents that there would be some replacement green space, but the objectors’ only reaction was “we don’t believe you”, despite the fact that it was one of their number who pushed through some of these promises when he was a city councillor. 500 “objectors” sounds impressive, but even if that is a true figure, it is far outweighed by the overwhelming number of local residents who support this bill; there was an independently audited city-wide consultation which got over 10;000 response, over 70% in favour of the bill. The objectors have had plenty of opportunity to persuade Councillors and MSPs to support their cause; to date, not one has done so. The staff, teachers and parents of Portobello High School desperately need a new school and Portobello Park is the best site for it; no alternative could offer the full range of facilities needed in a modern school, and in addition the proposed all-weather pitches would be available to local residents. Finally, the Committee looked very clearly at whether this would set a precedent and decided, quite emphatically, that it would not put common good land elsewhere in Scotland at risk.

    Please ask your MSP to support this bill; our children need their new school.

    1. If I said this even to a 10 year old in Glasgow, they would laugh at me.

      “Committee looked very clearly at whether this would set a precedent and decided, quite emphatically, that it would not put common good land elsewhere in Scotland at risk.”

      The democratic process is not about numbers, you are confusing it with Facebook. It is about first understanding evidence measured against facts. I have been involved in campaigns in Glasgow of council v common good for the last ten years. I can count on the fingers of one hand in that time, the councillors who are even interested in the common good fund. Generally, apart from ripping it off they have no interest. Why would anyone in their right mind think the council would pass up the opportunity to steal cheap green space, or believe the promises of a Parliamentary Committee! You will be telling us next the council is full of honest people.

      The Pollock Park and Botanic Gardens and other campaigners fought ferociously against the Glasgow city council who pushed aggressively to establish businesses in these two parks. It wasn’t the developers who were the main threat, but the council themselves. And they are still at it and gaining ground. They have also captured some of the moral high ground like the Portobello school in the park campaign and are encouraging proposals for schools, hospitals and hospices in parks all over the place. (nightclubs don’t work) If this bill is passed they (councils) will be in easy street. And no reassurance from any two bit parliamentary committee is going to stop them.

      School is only for a few years the Common Good is for life. Governments do not protect commons. Straggly rag bag groups are the only ones who do. Ask the kids what they would rather have. The park or a school? – but tell them the whole story. Common Good should be on the curriculum anyway for kids to decide what their assets should be used for – not business orientated councillors, statistics, or around the convenience of parents.
      Look at the facts and the evidence “yourself” before you decide on supporting anything, because your kids may regret your decisions if you make the wrong ones.

  2. The Private Bill only applies to a specified part of Portobello Park and nowhere else. It would authorise the use of the park for educational purposes but, should it not be used for that, the land reverts to it’s previous inalienable Common Good status for the purposes of recreation. If the Bill failed to go through, the option of pursuing a Private Bill in other circumstances would still exist, and should the Bill be passed it wouldn’t make the passing of any other Bill more likely. Any Private Bill is judged on its own merits and the political process, unlike a judicial one, is not bound by precedents.

    Portobello Park is by far the best site for a new Portobello High School, which is why the proposals have the backing of the majority of locals.

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