Sighthill’s Pinkston Drive – What the tenants want
we would like to put in a final request that we be allowed to address the Regeneration Sub-Committee directly. For the past five years we have lived with the threat of demolition hanging over Sighthill. We have fought tirelessly to keep our homes and save services like the concierge. PTA members and others have helped set-up charities and voluntary groups to provide much needed local childcare and social support services; helped refugees to stay here; and raised dozens of tenants’ complaints demanding proper repairs and maintenance. All this with no financial gain to ourselves, only the prospect of keeping our homes and saving the community we’ve fought hard to maintain.
In 2006 the original Save Our Homes campaign took the step of becoming a GHA recognised RTO and have worked closely with GHA Tenant participation officers since. Our reps attended Monday’s RTO Event – making links with some of the other 48 RTOs.
As you know, despite paying relatively high rents, we have had no investment from GHA – recognised for the first time in the rent freeze for 2009/2010. The buildings have inevitably become run down in that time, yet the community still retains its identity and the will to fight to stay together. This is testament to the strength of our community and our belief in it. We have become a melting pot of cultures, one week recently at St Rollox church 21 different countries were represented! An estimated 50 nationalities live side by side in Pinkston Drive – one of Scotland’s most ethnically diverse and social integrated communities.
Pinkston has also become a cause celebre with articles appearing regularly in the local and national media. Regular interviews on real radio, stv news, articles in Scotland on Sunday, The Evening Times, Springburn Herald, and Inside Housing magazine. Our association has organised 17 well attended and representative public meetings over 5 years. As well as support from local Labour MSP Paul Martin we have also been supported on a weekly basis by SNP councillor Phil Greene, and by MSPs Sandra White (SNP) and Patrick Harvie Green Party Co-Convener who took a tour of Sighthill in February and also number Mr Tony Benn amongst our supporters.
In June a month long series of 3 Minute Wonders short films exclusively about Pinkston Drive will be screened on channel 4.
At our last public meeting in March Mr Gerry Creanor (a leading architect from GHA’s regeneration team) and Mr Mick McCabe GHA Director of North East Glasgow Local Shared Services both acknowledged the viability of our flats, revealing what we have said all along: – that our buildings are sound, good for another 40 years life. We were even promised that a show flat could be prepared to change people’s misconceptions about living in Sighthill. These measures would undoubtedly help to raise demand. It would seem that Pinkston Drive could potentially be the jewel in the crown for GHA’s regeneration if gone about in the right way.
Please do not destroy this remarkable street which has already had to cope with the loss of half it’s neighbours in Fountainwell, that alone could have destroyed many communities.
We welcome the BMG results which advocate retaining 32,35 31,34 and 3,5 Pinkston Drive which with investment of around £2million per double block £6million would see 3 blocks reclad, repaired and refurbished with new kitchens and bathrooms within 2-3 years. However we would also strongly urge GHA to look at complete retention of the buildings in Pinkston Drive. As it is now apparent that the cost of renovation and regeneration of the buildings already there are a fraction of what was initially quoted. It would now take a total of £11.08million to reclad, repair and refurbish all 5 blocks and so bring 1,100 homes up to standard. Surely this would be the best way forward for us all?
In making your decision – you may well be told by other voices arguing in favour of demolition, they do not represent tenant’s views. However as PTA officers we have never been welcomed by the Compass LHO Board. Those misguided Sighthill residents on the Board do not have a mandate directly from Pinkston tenants. Out of 1,000 tenants in Drygate, Townhead, Sighthill and Glasgow Cross – only around 100 are actually members of Compass so the vast majority aren’t aware they have no say and cannot vote.
It is to our regret that – with the exception of the ODS Open Day in June 2006 and the February 2009 BMG related Open Day which we co-organised with GHA – Compass LHO Board have never organised any meetings in Sighthill. In contrast we have organised 17 (Seventeen! ) public meetings at St Stephen’s Primary School and have always ensured Compass LHO and/or GHA has been represented at almost every one. In spirit of landlord/tenant partnership our officers have also attended numerous negotiating meetings with GHA officers – who have been very professional. And though not always agreeing with us – they have listened to our concerns.
As a result we jointly commissioned focus groups and an Open Day to discuss the BMG Research findings. These findings were presented, distributed and discussed democratically and in detail with GHA officers and Compass Manager Mr Maguire giving full replies to tenants’ questions. 50 Pinkston tenants present voted unanimously – including those previously favouring total demolition – for the proposal we put to them at the public meeting.
We are now one of the most active, democratic, vibrant and representative RTOs in the city. We invite you to attend the latest meeting on Tuesday May 19th 6.30pm at St Stephen’s School to announce and explain your decision.
We would hope and pray that the right decision is made, the decision the TENANTS want