As the rate of urbanisation has increased in the last 30 years, the government capacity to support the disadvantaged within this sphere has in many cases failed. Non-governmental organisations working in the field such as the Church, charitable organisations, etc., have for a long time advocated Community Planning or management of the urban environment as the best solution to this problem of how to give a better quality of life to many of the citizens of our country.
Community planning began in the rapidly industrialising 19th century cities of Great Britain and America where reformers and well-wishers wanted to ameliorate the appalling living conditions of the working classes. Many of the latter were too poor, ignorant and disorganised to remedy the situation themselves, and so the earliest community planners or ‘social agencies’ necessarily undertook the first initiatives for planning and providing for people. In Great Britain, community planning has evolved and not only has it kept its identity, but it has also retained its application as a primary vehicle through which social change is enacted at a local level, by members of the community acting together to improve the lifestyle of the group as a whole.
However, people striving to improve their existing environment have limited freedom to act independently. In particular, urban communities are increasingly constrained by both local and governmental authorities, and also by outside economic factors, which can and do prohibit perceived changes for the better. Thus, the major failing of any community planning is its inability to understand this relationship between the community and authority in detail and in an objective manner. On the other hand, a government that takes no heed of the community at large fails also. Therefore, the purpose of this Reflection is to make a contribution to the discussions on community planning and have the thoughts of people who have lived through other
policy initiatives given due regard.
Lastly, the reflections are intended to be used as a tool among the many Church, statutory, voluntary, and charitable organisations, to aid and encourage a fresh approach to the eradication of poverty in our lives today.
Glasgow Braendam Link
In 1975 the sociologist Sean Damer went to live for six months in Britain’s most notorious housing scheme, Moorepark, or as it was known to all The Wine Alley’ of Govan in Glasgow. He wanted to discover how and why such places came into being and to see if remedies could be found. At the end of his stay in the housing scheme Damer wrote a report on the area entitled ‘From Moorepark to Wine Alley’ in what was a damning indictment of officialdom for its arrogant neglect of Moorepark and the people who lived there. Somewhere, communication had broken down so completely, that while the latter felt powerless to do anything about the situation, the ‘remedies’ of the former only made the situation worse. Darner’s later thoughts on a solution to the scheme’s problems were that it could be found in Community Planning for, as he says, members of the ‘underclass’ are not helpless and passive victims of structural circumstances. Further, that by becoming involved in social, political, and economic activities, the community of any area can organise itself in such a fashion as to understand that community, or collective power is real.
What Damer said about community could also be said about officialdom for they too can be victims of circumstance whenever decisions for the better do not influence policies for the worse. Besides, authority cannot work without community and vice versa so there has to be a coming together of both sides and a change of thinking by each about how and why ‘things’ get done – if both parties are to do ‘the right thing’. That is why this Reflection will critically examine the Moorepark experience (within the context of community planning) from before Darner’s time to the 1970s and the present, where it will question if there have been any real changes in attitudes between then and today or worse, are the same mistakes being repeated, and is proven good work being ignored?
Houses are places to live in, either for one person or several. Through the ages people have lived in houses, building them according to the climate, topography, the material available, and the social and cultural ideas of the time. Without a home, mankind has no place.
While debating the (Greenwood) Housing Bill of 1930, the MP John Wheatley insisted that Britain would never get rid of its slum problem as long as it continued to “…set aside for a particular section of the community an inferior quality of housing…” The above extract comes from the enquiry that the sociologist Sean Damer wrote on the history of what was regarded as the most notorious slum-housing scheme in the Glasgow of the 1970’s, Moorepark, or as it came to be known by Govanites and Glaswegian’s – the Wine Alley of Govan. Damer (who lived for six months in the scheme) wanted to find out how and why such places came to exist, and what could be done to help them. It is in this context that he placed the above paragraph at the very forefront of his book From Moorepark to Wine Alley, The rise and fall of a Glasgow housing scheme, and it is also for the same reasons that this section of the Braendam Link Report investigates housing (especially in Glasgow), its problems, and how they could be solved by community planning. The authorities plan for the scheme started going wrong when they decided (without consulting the locals who lived in Govan) to house it mainly with ‘outsiders’ or people who came from areas other than Govan. Of
the 550 tenancies available, only 33 (16%) were identifiably from Govan itself. Naturally the slum dwellers of Govan, who though it their right to have most of the new house in their own locality, were angry and outraged at their expectations being ignored by the authorities. This was the catalyst that led local Govanites into despising the peoph of Moorepark, and considering them as ‘different’ and ‘alien’. In its turn, this attitude helped create the malignant tales about people who lived there as being nothing but thieves, layabouts and drunks. Within a years, Moorepark had gained the abusive epithet of the Wine Alley.
Once the area had gained a ‘bad’ reputation (through no fault of its own), this was picked up by Govan’s local newspaper, The Govan Press, who furthered the image in a relentlessly aggressive campaign against the inhabitants until even the authorities began to believe it too. Within 10 years, Glasgow Corporation’s repair and maintenance service to the area had declined noticeably because the Corporation was simply not interested. With its ‘bad name, many people from Moorepark could not get jobs while those that could often disguised their addresses and, if they a they moved away because of its ‘bad’ reputation Gradually, the decrease in services, coupled with, a by now high turnover of tenancie let house, led to the accretion of demoralised families coming into the scheme and all the stories about Moorpark’s good-for-nothing population seemed to be justified. Before leaving the area in 1975, Damer sent in his report on Moorepark to the Housing Manager of the Corporation of Glasgow where he attacked the Corporation for failing to do its job in managing and maintaining both the houses and the environment in Moorepark. He also complained about the abusive term Wine Alley, which was always quoted by officialdom whenever Moorepark scheme came under discussion
When Damer returned to the area in 1989 he found that his earlier report had had two outcomes. The first was an experimental improvement programme, which had the initiatives: the partial modernisation of the houses, the re-planning of the external environment, and the construction of a Tenants Hall. The second outcome was a general agreement among officials to stop using the abusive term of Wine Alley as this served only to reproduce the stigma of the scheme. However, the local paper still remained hostile, hypocritical, and unhelpful about the whole idea.
Darner had two criticisms of the improvement programme. One was that there was no real attempt at involving the tenants in these changes, nor was there any attempt at involving the community in the future management of their own locale. For instance, leaky, crumbling roofs were never repaired during the ‘improvements’ nor were rotten, draught-causing window frames replaced while the backcourt midden arrangements remained as inadequate as ever. Darner’s second criticism was that the Tenants Association in the scheme had no local leadership or community say over who came into the scheme. Their powerlessness in this matter soon became clear when Moorepark was deliberately targeted as a dumping ground for Glasgow’s homeless, those on low incomes, and people with few housing points who were enabled to jump the waiting list – if they accepted a house in the scheme. In fact, Glasgow Corporation was so determined to place many of the cities socially deprived into Moorepark that they even advertised for them in the newspapers.
For those who did move in, it was not a matter of them wanting to live in the area, it was more a case of people with little or no choice about where they could stay.
It was the policy that those with low incomes, few housing points or nowhere else to go, could only expect the least attractive housing. Thus, Damer saw that this decision of loading more of the socially deprived into an existing deprived area, only added to Moorepark’s growing problems of joblessness, poverty, depression, drunkenness and crime. Added to these miseries, Damer also found that drug
dealing, drug abuse, and money lending had flourished in a big way since 1975, which only added to the scheme’s wretchedness.
Finally, Darner’s last thoughts on a solution to Moorepark’s spiralling problems were that it could be found in Community Planning. For (as he says) members of the so-called ‘underclass’ are not helpless and passive victims of structural circumstances, and that by becoming involved in social, political and economical activities, the community of any area can organise themselves in such a fashion as to understand that community, or collective power, is real.1
1 Damer, 1989, (passim)
Life in the’Wine Alley’
I was born in 1950 and brought up in Govan in the Moorepark housing estate or the Wine Alley, as it was commonly known. It was regarded at the time as perhaps the worst slum in Britain, and the people who lived there were treated like vermin by the authorities whom we treated likewise. It was a ‘them and us’ attitude that persisted right up until the Wine Alley was demolished in the late 1990’s. My mother and grandfather raised me alongside my two sisters and three brothers and various in-laws who moved in and out of the home through the years. I remember at one time there were thirteen of us staying in the house including the lassie across the street who came to stay for a night and more or less remained there for about five years.
We lived in a low-down coal-fire heated home at 9 Lettoch Street and we only ever moved once and that was to the house directly above us. Although the scheme had a bad reputation for crime, drinking and violence, as a child I never felt unsafe or ‘deprived’ in any way and knew only kindness from my family, friends, relatives and neighbours. Although we were all poor, I knew that I could go to any door, ask for a piece, and get it. The first ‘trade’ I learnt was stealing and gambling yet it seemed normal to all of us as children. Any profits went into the family home and we knew that we would get in return our Saturday matinee money and a sweety. Three times during my young life I was sent away to residential schools for being ‘undernourished’ while just before my 14th birthday I was put away in an approved school (in 1963) for a large number of burglaries. I spent 18 months there before being released on a three-year parole where I took a job in the local Cleansing Department as a ‘midgy-man’. This was a very hard job physically where we would carry a wicker basket (full of ashes, etc.) on our backs to the midden motor outside the closes or houses where we worked. It was just before I packed in this job that I met Sean Damer when he came to our house to some of the family in 1974. As a university sociologist,
he had come to live in Wine Alley to see for himself why it seemed to be such a horrible place to outsiders. I remember that when he told me that he had studied at university and that what he was now doing was his ‘job’ I laughed at his ‘education’ and his ‘job’. I considered that I did a ‘real’ job and that what he did for a living was nonsense.
Much later, after years of drink and drugs abuse, I thought about all the time I had wasted and I realised that if I was going to seriously change my life than I had to reeducate myself into a new way of thinking
– and education and learning came into my thoughts. So, at the age of 46 I started three years of studies with projects that involved Govan Initiative and Glasgow University until I was finally accepted as a full-time student at Glasgow. During my first year studying sociology I came across Damer again in the form of a book that he had written about poverty and deprivation in the Wine Alley but put it to the back of my mind. It never surfaced again until Lil Feeney came looking for me (who I had known from Govan Initiative) and asked me if I would be interested in helping to write a Report on poverty and deprivation (along with herself and Brian) – inspired by Darner’s book on the same theme. I agreed and the result is the Report, which you now have today which is meant for the October 17th World Poverty Day.
Reflection on Housing
The writer on housing problems, T. A. Markus, wondered why many important questions were never asked in the planning process. He thought that important questions are never asked because mistakes in the finish of the whole are not seen until it is too late. The planning process commonly involves the juggling of conflicting interests in such a fashion that it is agreeable to all interested parties – at least, no one side has to sacrifice itself unjustly. So, has Glasgow and other cities always been in the hands of ‘comprehensive’ planners who take an overview of all the parties involved? Has it always been a democratic, progressive authority and, is it so today? 2
Where was this democratic, progressive authority when it built the shambolic Gorbals tower block scheme? Only a few years into it, faults like dampness had begun to appear in the tower blocks of the Laurieston/ Gorbals project, which rapidly turned into a disaster area. By the early 80s, much of the place had acquired an air of dilapidation and neglect. Redevelopment was never completed and the combined effects of poor building specifications, and carelessness in the design of the surrounding spaces were becoming embarrassingly apparent. Worst of all were the problems relating to the 759 flats and maisonettes in the Hutchestown ‘Area E’ phase at Crown Street. In fact, within only two years of the first tenants moving into their 7-storey deck-access blocks (in 1972); they had begun to complain about severe dampness, condensation, and water penetration. The faults were caused mainly by a lack of insulation and waterproofing at the joints in the concrete panels, which made up the structure. Wall furniture and coverings, clothing, beds and bedding, carpets and furniture were badly affected by fungi while many of the inhabitants suffered physical illnesses related to the damp atmosphere, financial anguish at the cost of replacement and (in some cases), mental problems brought on by the worry caused by the above problems in the first place! 3
Again, as happened in Moorepark in the mid 1970s, selective letting policies resulted in the housing of people who suffered not only from economic deprivation but had many related social problems of drink, drugs, and petty theft. Management of entrance into the block zones was poor while the risk of personal attack inside and outside the flats was high. Lifts were often out of order; maintenance of the blocks was negligible while the area surrounding the tower blocks was allowed to turn into a muddy, rubbish-strewn wasteland. 4
Soon, the housing scheme had a ‘bad’ name. It was only a community concerted campaign, (which included a long rent strike) waged by the various groups of residents, that the Glasgow District Council agreed to re-house all of the remaining tenants. 5
Again, where were the democratic, caring authorities when the 1987-1990 Glasgow Housing Condition Survey found that in a third of the city’s houses suffered from condensation, dampness and mould – and did little about it? Again, as in the cast of the Gorbals, little was done to remedy the situation until the individual agencies within the local communities combined their power to get something done. In the cace of Easterhouse it was the various interested parties of the Eastethoude Community Group who decided to get the authorities to tske notice of their plight by directly intervening their own affairs. 6
First of all, they invited local and international designers to attend a three day team design effort to come up with imaginative projects that would redress the problems they had in their 3-storey, concrete block houses.7
The group then lobbied the City Council, the Scottish Office and finally Westminster, until they were eventually given the go-ahead to revamp one of the old blocks of 6 houses into model they desired. Impressed by what they had done, the European Community allowed an application for major funds, which matched by the City Council (and oth adherents), to such an extent that another 36 blocks in the estate were rehabililitated in the same fashion as the prototype.8
At this point, some may ask, if the residents of such a community could do so mutch themselves, why is authority necessary for community planning? The answer is 1 authority is necessary because it plays an indispensable mediating role at local and city level through bringing togeth locals and officials. First, this fosters connectedness seen in social capital and enhanced trust in government and in fellow citizens. Second, it encourage prospects for social inclusion by impioving living conditions and life changes while a third (indirect) factor is that, by working with authority, it can augment the personal development and enhanced confidence that participation can bring.9
Otherwise, unless there is agreement between authority and community, issues like social segregation will never go away unless something is done is because the housing system (and the way it operates) encourages the separation of the rich and the poor. It occurs in the buyers market where access to housing is based on the ability to pay, and it also takes place in the council allocation system where the disadvantaged are lumped together in ‘sink’ housing schemes.
2 Markus, 1993, p. 148
3 Smith, 1999, p. 40-41
4 Markus, 1993, p. 161
5 Smith, 1992, p. 4
6 Markus, 1993, p. 163
7 Markus, 1993, p. 163
8 Markus, 1993, p. 163
9 Goodlad, and Meegan, 2005, p. 188
Community Power in Community Planning
The ‘spin’ put on the regeneration programmes of the past have put too much emphasis on ‘bricks and mortar’ rather than helping people deal with their own problems themselves. It goes on to say that although bad housing design, and the allowance of dilapidation has been part of the problem, still ‘…housing is not the whole answer.’ This present attitude towards housing has serious implications for the future. First, if the government are to tackle inequality and the centring of disadvantaged groups, then they will have to understand that it is the housing system itself that creates it. Second, two documents from the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU), which focus on the decline of the urban neighbourhood, argue that the decline ‘almost always starts with a lack of work.’
Poor health and low-levels of educational qualifications are offered as secondary parts of the equation. However, the documents do not ask why so many people with poor health or low educational qualifications happen to be in the same areas in the first place! Furthermore, although the new regeneration programme mentions housing quality and physical improvements as valid points in deprived locals, they are still regarded as unessential to regeneration. In fact, the idea was publicly abused in the first of the two SEU documents above. Somehow the government cannot understand that external improvements can only benefit any dilapidated area by not only improving its external image but also by giving the local residents a sense of Well-Being. Third, the importance of housing management services such as concierge or neighbourhood warden duties are understated in the document, and they are not considered as playing a core public service in the maintenance and upkeep of the areas they service.10
However, as little seems to have changed in the last 30 years does this mean that at last, local communities are to be involved in making decisions about their futures? Will they be full participants at setting the agenda for their locals or are these just ‘pie crust promises’?11 Will the same old story of the past three decades resurface where members of local communities are merely informed or ‘consulted’ about changes in which they have no say?12 Perhaps one of the worst errors that the new regeneration policy is now making is that of ignoring the potential of local housing organisations as important instruments for inclusion and social capital, and their spill over effects of wider social and economic developments and issues. Especially in the Scottish context, given the important role that they have played in community planning. This striking omission harks directly back to Darner’s time in Moorepark where the community had no say at all in their right to a decent home, in a decent environment, and a decent standard of life.13
Private housing is at present being built on the site of the old Granary at Partick while across the river at Govan’s Graving Docks, the developing company Bishop Loch have been given permission to alter its original approved plan for the Docks of a hotel and 500 houses. The idea behind the hotel was to employ local people and to draw in money to the area. However, as soon as Bishop Loch got permission to build, they immediately decided to cancel the hotel, and double the amount of private houses to a 1,000. At the time this article was written in the local Southside paper, prices for the projected apartments were going up dramatically among the speculators.14 A few hundred yards east of this development, one-bedroom apartments at the newly built QE3 (Clydeside Festival Park) in Govan were selling for £129,995 while two-bedrooms at the same place will cost you £199,995. Many of the people who buy these flats do not intend to stay in them rather; they hope either to rent them out at exorbitant prices or to sell them quickly at a greater price than they bought them for. The locals in Govan fear that gentrification is making its way in, in the face of community objections.15
Yet, there is still much to show that community power is not only real but can work effectively. In June 2004 the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petition Committee heard presentations from Govan Community Council about the failure of local regeneration policies in housing, poverty and unemployment. The main point of the Presentation was that, in an area which had lost 80% of its population (between 1951 and 2001), the re-zoning of demolished housing areas for warehousing and offices meant that there was less chance of people coming back into the area to live, as houses were needed in these areas and not anonymous commercial barns and offices. The lack of house building was not only an added threat to the existing shops and services but also to community life which was struggling just to survive because of the lack of houses. In reply to these petitions, the Scottish Parliament wrote to Glasgow City Council and to Scottish Enterprise Glasgow, asking for their responses to the submission and within 4 months, Glasgow Council had taken steps to set up the Central Govan Action Plan.16
On the 21/6/2005 the plans for the future of Govan’s Central area were publicly revealed showing that housing and concern for unemployment was high on its agenda. Also, among the plans for Govan’s hub was a programme to make Govan’s main shopping area more attractive such as joining Govan’s Market, Shopping Centre, Underground and bus depot together under the one roof. Moreover, there will be no demolition or destruction of any part of Govan’s heritage – on the contrary – the important Iron Age site of Doomster Hill will be marked with grass, and not encroached upon by the new housing while a special corridor will link it with Govan Old Parish Church, which is one of the earliest Christian sites in Britain. In sum, effective participatory urban management calls for a fundamental rethink from all the players involved, from the local authorities and development agencies, through local (and sometimes international) non-governmental organisations, to the community-based organisations themselve; in redefining their roles and relationships, if something is to be done for the benefit of all.
10 Bailey and Hastings, 2004, p. 91
11 Barr, 1997, p. 47-58 12Dailly, 2005, p. 8
13 Bailey and Hastings, 2004, p. 92
14 ‘Riverside Changes, 2005, p. 1
15 ‘Saturday Home’, 2005, p. 20 16’Vindicated1, 2005, p. 1-2
The authors would like to thank Glasgow Braendam Link, The Faith in Community (Scotland) Transformation Team, Oxfam’s UK Poverty Programme, and the Poverty Alliance for suggesting the idea of this project for the world’s ‘Poverty Day’ on October 17th 2005.
Glasgow Braendam Link, aims to support, empower and enable all those involved in the partnership to gain more control of their lives by encouraging self-belief, growth and development. The partnership works by:
Providing a family base with a family room in Govan, with weekly meetings in Govan and Easterhouse Providing consistent, non-judgmental support to families and individuals, and home visits to families in crisis
• Providing activities for member children and young people Providing informal and formal training for family members
Encouraging families to participate in the community and to use local facilities and services Ensuring that the voice of those living in poverty is heard
Glasgow Braendam Link is a Company Limited by Guarantee, Registered in Scotland, No. 199310 Scottish Charity No. SC 020951
Glasgow Braendam Link, Pearce Institute, 840 Govan Road, Govan, Glasgow, G51 3UU
Tel: 0141 440 1999, Fax: 0141 440 1367 ,
Email: email@example.com , www.gblink.org.uk
images & design by The Poverty Alliance ©Glasgow Braendam Link 2005
Wine Alley Revisited
Reflecting on Crime and Punishment