IN SUMMER 2018 I suggested to the Community Council in Milton that they apply for funding to host a Christmas tree switch-on event.

The bid was successful and the first Milton Community Switch-On went ahead at Liddesdale Square. 

I’ll never forget how proud and tearful I felt watching the procession of local children and their handmade lanterns walk along Liddesdale Road to the switch-on.

Hundreds of families braved the cold on that dark November night but like me, they knew it was something special for our community.

As one resident said to me that evening: “In all the 60 years I’ve lived here, not once has Milton ever seen a Christmas tree in their area. Thank you.” 

Glasgow Times: First Christmas tree in Milton, 2018. First Christmas tree in Milton, 2018.

Three years on and, despite the impact of the pandemic, we can see that this was a defining moment for our community, a real milestone in the Milton community empowering itself, taking things into our own hands, and delivering for our people.

In 2021, Christmas trees are going up all around Canal Ward; in Ruchill, Milton and Possilpark. 

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The trees have been organised and delivered in partnership with the city council, our colleagues who help make up the Canal Area Partnership, the local Business Improvement District, community and Third Sector groups, and our local housing organisations. 

Canal’s grassroots groups are also staging Christmas events across Milton, Ruchill, and Lambhill throughout this month. 

These groups, working with others who committed to improving this area, have seized that spirit that was evident in Christmas 2018. 

Communities like ours who were left behind by Labour for decades have taken the opportunity to work with others and empower ourselves.

We relied on Labour to deliver for us and they never did. Worse still, we were abandoned.

Working in partnership with the SNP-led council, we’re taking control ourselves.

Funding from the Canal Area Partnership, which brings together the council with a raft of other partners, has helped enable some of that.

But in recent years community groups have developed the confidence and know-how to work with local businesses, housing associations, and other organisations who can help drive forward improvement, like these very special Christmas events. 

Last year we were limited with our community involvement because of Covid. But Christmas is once again coming to Canal Ward and with it further festivities.  

This year’s Christmas event will be one to remember, with more new lighting at Millennium Square, secured by funding from Scotland Loves Local, as well as the Christmas tree and yearly Cross Spans. 

This upgrade will see more phases of lighting added over time.

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Saracen Street will once again be the go-to place for local shopping as we continue to bring life and vibrancy back across the Canal Ward and throughout Glasgow North. And it will boost our local economy.  

The Possilpark Business Improvement District (BID) was established by local traders and supported by NG Homes. 

The Scotland’s Towns and Partnership is supporting our local efforts and its lead officer Jackie Shearer is working very closely with local businesses, community organisations, and the council to drive forward much-needed changes in Possilpark which will see our historic high street emerge once again. 

When I think back to that cold November in 2018 and our first Christmas tree switch-on event in Milton, I am so delighted and energised by how far we have come as a community. 

The streets and surrounding areas are becoming more empowered and are continuing to go from strength to strength.