Locals say We must End Slum Housing

Deputy First Minister comes to Govanhill
Locals say We must End Slum Housing – No more excuses
Alex Neil, Scotland’s Communities and Housing Minister on Wed April 29th announced a boost to Council housing for Midlothian and the Deputy First Minister was in Govanhill expressing her concern at a Public Meeting in Hollybrook School on 2nd April, about the dire housing conditions people are forced to endure in parts of the area. Crosshill and Govanhill Community Council have been campaigning to End Slum Housing.

Last summer the Community council held two public meetings to highlight the scandal of slum housing in their area.

People are living in overcrowded conditions with scum landlords, structural neglect, urgent repairs not being carried out, absentee landlords and owners and more.

This achieved much publicity at the time and led to Glasgow City Council and MSP’s promising to address the issue.

150 locals filled the Hollybrook School hall in Hollybrook Street. As well as Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Deputy First Minister; Frank McAveety MSP (Lab) echoed the point made by Iain Mac Innes, secretary of the Community Council by warning that the issues relating to absentee owners and private landlords were “spilling into other streets in the area”.

Councillor Anne Marie Millar (Lab)stated; “Things have moved on slightly . But it was down to people to deal with their rubbish. Yes we are here to be held accountable.”

While Councillor Danny Alderslowe (Green Party) believed that, “Private letting agents have a lot to answer for.” and he suggested the Community Council should “Invite them to future meetings”.

Cathie Cowan, Director of the South East Glasgow Community Health and Care partnership, gave an important presentation to the meeting. She said that £200K was being spent on housing safety and security and that welfare and employment issues were high on the agenda and that children not going to school was also an important issue.

A resident of Dixon Avenue, [Name supplied permission still needed for publication] in an understandably emotional appeal for action praised the politicians and officials for their interest in the area and pointed out that while processes take their long, slow course – lives are at stake. “While your processes rumble on our homes are crumbling faster.” He stated that whether Roma, East European or long time locals children are children and they should be in school.
On Monday 20th April 2009 the tenants / residents of 271 Langside Road had to be evacuated, because a concrete or stone step on the close stairs had dropped to the basement level and other stone stairs were loose.

Tracy Rankin and Cathy Wotherspoon of the Victoria Primary School Parents Council pleading for a rethink of the unpopular proposal to close their school said there, “are plenty of places in our school for all the children”.
The City Council decided on April 23rd to close Govanhill’s Victoria Primary School. Thus removing 60 nursery places and potentially 400 primary school places from the local community.

The meeting learned that money had been allocated for a housing and a social survey and that several closes in the target area have been earmarked for work when a commencement date is still to be announced.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) received a warm welcome as she said, “the situation does merit being treated as a priority . It (the slum housing and overcrowding) is a special case.” She said, “Govanhill is a special case.” “….. it merits my attention and the government’s attention. I’ll play my part to making the finances stack up.” She said that the Scottish Government has already recognised the unique conditions in Govanhill by funding Govanhill Law Centre with £ 1⁄4 million . She said that legal powers would be used against dodgy landlords.

Questioners wanted to know when work would actually start to do something to rectify the physical state of housing in the area. Cathy Cowan answered that, “When the survey’s done it will be analysed and based on the evidence a proper plan will be created to tackle the issues. “ Cathy has indicated her desire to update the Community Council at its next meeting on Monday 11th May.

Iain Mac Innes, Secretary of Crosshill and Govanhill Community said, “We will continue to raise this mater until there are tangible results. A country’s worth can be measured by how it welcomes and treats those most vulnerable additions to its communities. Decent, secure shelter is a basic right.”

Steven Purcell, ‘The Leader’ of the City Council is reported as stating that £2 million is to be pumped into the most affected part of the area nicknamed by some as WALD (i.e. Westmoreland, Alison St., Langside Road and Dixon Avenue).

All the people of Govanhill may have to continue together to push for action to happen sooner rather than later. However tenants and residents are still waiting for a breakdown of precisely what that means. They are still trying to hold the ‘powers that be’ to greater financial transparency and accountability.
For further information contact Iain Mac Innes, Secretary , Crosshil & Govanhill Community council
Tel: 07733 331 014
By Memoo