I attended a tenants meeting in Sighthill on Thursday evening. Why, I, coming from the west end of the city would want to attend a meeting of the residents of Sighthill, is an interesting point. Well one is. I do not own my own home and therefore it is in my interest to know what is happening in the council rent sector, which will hopefully be an option to me and many others, for future housing accommodation.
Secondly I am very much interested in the activities of communities and how they go about there business. How they communicate with each other and the possibilities of creating networks of communication and solidarity with each other. This is an imperative, if the idea of social housing, or for that matter almost any other issues, concerning the social life of working class people, are to progress. If communities don’t communicate with each other, there is no hope of stemming the tide of destruction, that could be heading in their direction.
Thirdly. I am always cheered and my hope is re charged, when I hear from the people at the sharp edge of the equation. It is through them that my spirit are lifted and I can see the possibilities that are achievable, if their voices can be carried to inspire, encourage and create confidence in others. We need to participate in each others communities , for what happens in one place, one day, could happen in yours the next – good or bad.
What bit is it that the city council don’t understand
In 1999, the city of Glasgow, was awarded the accolade”City of Architecture and Design”. Part of the cities submission for the bid was social housing. There was much talk at the time of some housing developments in Glasgow and elsewhere where the architect, project manager and tenants, were all involved in discussions of what the houses should look like, what facilities were needed and such like. This was successful participatory, social housing, These projects helped win the City of Architecture and Design, award.
Now you do not need to be a master architect, or planner, to understand the best data available to consider, when designing or converting housing, is the experience of the people who will, or do live in them. You do not need to pay a consultant thousands of pounds to find this stuff out. Its free, and available from those with the most experience of the situation, the tenant.
While the independent consultants, and market researchers are paid thousands of pounds to come up with an idea of what the people want in Sighthill, and six months to do it, the Sighthill, Save Our Homes, campaign have produced their own – in six weeks!
SIGHTHILL S.O.H. SURVEY RESULTS SHOW:
59% ARE AGAINST DEMOLITION
In favour 27% Don’t Know 14%
86% FOR RETAINING HOUSING
10% Against 1 Don’t Know 5%
84% WANT INVESTMENT IN SIGHTHILL
10% Against Don’t Know 6%
76% WISH TO STAY IN SIGHTHILL
To leave 19% Don’t Know 5%
84% WANT TO KEEP CONCIERGES
Against 7% Don’t Know 9%
51% HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN GHA
22% Happy with GHA, 27% Don’t Know
67% FEEL INADEQUATELY CONSULTED
23% Consulted OK, 10% Don’t Know
36% WANT TO RETURN TO CITY COUNCIL
21% GHA, 13% Tenant MC, 6% Private Landlord
NB: A total of 262 tenants filled out the survey carried out from November 24th – December 13th 2004. With approximately a 15% rate of return, that’s statistically a very representative sample.____
Here again you do not have to be an expert in statistics to understand that there is a collective voice here, and it is saying something of importance. But, it is not what Glasgow City Council wish to hear.
Displaced communities are a ploy to ease the developers work. Who is going to worry about the private development up the road, when you are at the verge of becoming homeless, being sent someplace else ells, or your flat is miserable for want of repair.
Let us forget about social housing for a minute and think of social engineering, for it’s the only way a lot of this stuff makes sense. The first question is Do the City Council, care what you think. Do they nothing. If they did why are they not thanking you for the above survey and celebrating the exhaustive unpaid work that tenants groups do in giving a voice to the aspirations, concerns and hopes of our communities. (perhaps some space for a tenants” right to reply” in that odious wee rag that they bring out each month to highlighting the latest privatisation buy outs)
The formula GCC have used for as long as I can remember is “wipe out”
Communities are very dangerous places, especially when the communicate and speak to each other.
In order to control people in communities you need to give them the impression that something is happening in the communities own interest ,while you are planning its destruction.
The councils option is always for wipe out, because that way they get rid of two problems, the housing in question (to clear the way for the developers) and most importantly, the community, (displaced and disorientated communities cause no problems)
So you can offer tenants new housing to get them out of the old ones. Once out of the old houses the power of collective bargaining is crushed and tenants can be picked off like flies. Some who make the biggest noise will get a nice house in the better part of the development. (and will be used to highlight what the council are doing for ordinary people in the said magazine) The rest will get the crap.
If you want examples of almost complete, community wipe out, take a bus and visit Brigeton, or Dalmarnock, There are still some people and buildings left there, I suppose to save the embarrassment of rendering the place a complete development desert. And yes when they do build houses for working people, they will be the soulless, wee brown boxes, that handcuff the new owner to the mortgage broker, and isolate them from community life, for their only concern then will be about, where next months mortgage payment is coming from.
When I was looking for the school that the meeting was held in last on Thursday, I asked directions from many people, (I get lost easy but I like to talk to people) People like to help you when your lost. I like to help people who are lost, It’s what we do. We kind of like each other. Who knows what will happen in Sighthill, we will never solve all the problems of our communities, but we can solve a lot of them if we stick together and talk to each other.
Solidarity is one word that has not been cheapened or hacknyed by council or developers propaganda, because it is a word that they do not understand. Solidarity is the only thing that will hold our communities together. It’s a tough challenge, but there was proof that it is still a possibility in Sighthill on thursday night.
I am glad I didn’t stay at home and play with my computer, but made the effort to be there. For if I didn’t, I would not have met or heard the guy from Dundee, who traveled down for the occasion, or the guy from Red Road Flats, and what both had to say about shared experiences. And I would not have heard the good people of Sighthill, reassure me that community is always possible.