Greum Maol Stevenson

Living, Thinking, Writing in Scotland

image from glasgow housing association's social media, with images of smiling tenants and balloons, inviting tenants to a citywide panel

A week ago today, Glasgow Housing Association invited Wyndford residents to a “drop-in session” at the Maryhill Hub, to “have your say on GHA’s exciting new regeneration plans.” As those plans involve the demolition of more than 600 homes, and GHA’s Locality Housing Director, Linzi Heggie, has already admitted that the demolition will go ahead no matter what tenants say, some tenants of those homes were there with a list of questions.

Linzi Heggie was not there, so we spoke to some housing officers, who told us “the consultation is not a vote,” even though everyone who lives in the Wyndford — including homeowners — can submit a ballot paper saying whether or not they think the high flats should be demolished. Asked what the consultation is actually for, they said they did not know.

They also did not know the answers to the other questions, except for why no one-bedroom flats have been listed on GHA’s website in months (the answer is that tenants in a priority band are offered the flats before they are listed, which presumably means the flats that are listed are ones nobody wanted). This is not the fault of the housing officers, who are as helpful as they can possibly be in these circumstances. They offered to take the questions to their bosses. A week later, there has been no response. Here are the questions:

The Consultation

  1. Linzi Heggie has indicated that the blocks will be demolished regardless of the outcome of the questionnaire. So what is the purpose of the consultation?

  2. Why, when the blocks were ‘assumed for demolition’ as early as February 2021 (from Wheatley Group Board Meeting Feb 2021), were tenants not informed, or 'consulted', until November 2021?

  3. Why was this not put forward in the consultation/propaganda for the merger with CUBE?

  4. Why was GHA making decisions about the demolition of property they did not own at that time?

  5. Did GHA consider the implications of asking tenants how ‘excited’ they were at the prospect of their homes being demolished?

  6. Why does the consultation not offer us a way to support regeneration while keeping the 26 storey blocks?

  7. Why did they not include questions asking about negative impacts on tenants?

  8. The drop-in sessions at The Hub were all held within office hours on weekdays. Does GHA acknowledge that this excludes many with full time jobs from attending?

  9. A majority of the advertised ‘drop-ins’ have been cancelled due to covid measures. Does GHA accept that it should extend the consultation period to give the promised opportunity for tenants to air their views and ask questions?

  10. On attending repeated drop-ins, those GHA staff present have been unable to answer seemingly simple questions. What was the purpose of these sessions if nobody is present who can answer tenants’ questions?

Rehousing

  1. How does the Wheatley Group intend to re-home tenants in a place ‘matching their individual needs and circumstances’ when we know there are no other Wheatley group properties that are a) as close to the city centre b) one bedroom/bedsit and c) at the same or lower cost?

  2. Will there now be a major impact on the already long wating lists for social housing in Glasgow?

  3. Since Linzi Heggie says flats are easily available and we can all be rehoused here if we want, why has GHA not listed any available one-bedroom flats in Wyndford, Maryhill, Ruchill or even Summerston in the last three months?

Regeneration

  1. GHA claims the blocks “would be impossible to convert into the type and quality housing people have the right to expect and demand”. On what reports is this claim based?

  2. What mixture of housing does GHA envision for the ‘regenerated’ Wyndford? Are there guarantees it will be affordable to current residents of the 26 story blocks?

  3. How are we to form an opinion on regeneration when such scant information on the regeneration has been provided?

  4. What guarantees are there that this is not the same empty promises that were given in the Butney, Collina Street, and Hamiltonhill where social housing is being replaced by private?

The Hub

  1. On what basis are GHA involved in the ‘regeneration’ of The Hub, a council property?

  2. What discussions have been had with GCC about this?

  3. The map presented at The Hub suggests the “New Housing Development Area” includes what is currently the Maryhill Hub. Should we take this to mean that space currently given to the community centre will be housing?

Promotion of the stigma towards the blocks and their residents

  1. GHA claims “high rates of turnover” and “low occupancy” in the 26-story blocks. What efforts have been made to reduce turnover and increase occupancy?

  2. Does GHA acknowledge that the high rates of turnover are due to the flats being used as transitory accommodation for asylum seekers.

  3. Does GHA acknowledge that there are many long-term (up to 41years) residents in the tower blocks?

  4. Does GHA acknowledge that there are many tenants who intended to become long term residents?

  5. Does GHA accept that, in the context of high housing pressure across Glasgow, any ‘low-occupancy’ is because they have failed their duty to provide housing to those in need?

  6. The provided booklet says “a key element of the regeneration plans is obviously the demolition of the old multi-story blocks”. Why is this ‘obvious’? Does GHA accept that this plays into the stigma held towards the flats by some other Wyndford residents?

  7. Have GHA done Equality Impact Assessments on the plans to demolish the blocks? If so what was the outcome?

  8. It is a concern among current residents of the blocks that, in the time leading up to their demolition, they will be left unmaintained and living conditions will be left to deteriorate. Can GHA promise that repairs and planned improvements (such as promised bathroom refurbishments) will still take place, and flats will be filled rather than left empty?

Costings and environment

  1. GHA claim it would be “very difficult, or impossible, to make [the 26-story blocks] energy-efficient”. What is the basis for this claim?

  2. What Environmental Impact Assessments have taken place, and how do the emissions associated with demolition and rebuilding compare to the emissions associated with renovation of the existing structures?

  3. Why must their demolition be a condition for better access to active travel routes? Why has GHA made no efforts to provide, for example, cycle parking for existing residents in the 26 story blocks?

Financial compensation

The sum of £1500 was offered as displacement compensation to tenants of demolished social housing in the early 2000s. Why is this the same amount now being offered in 2022 with no account made for inflation?

#LinziHeggieGlasgowHousingAssociation #GlasgowHousingAssociation #CubeHousingAssocation #WyndfordHighFlats #maryhill #glasgow #SocialCleansing #landlordism #gentrification #SocialHousing #classism #ScottishBlogs

Email

Mastodon

RSS

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

This site does not track you.

In this post, I wrote about Living Rent’s lack of action concerning the transphobia of a member of its staff, Nick Durie, and of the coup that removed Sam Sharp from his position as secretary of the WTU, followed by resignations of members that left only homeowners on the committee of a tenants’s union.

Some good news: Nick Durie is no longer employed by Living Rent, which has suspended the WTU committee from activity pending an investigation.

#LivingRentGlasgow #NickDurie #EllenorHutson #transphobia #bigotry #WyndfordTenantsUnion #SamSharp #ScottishBlogs

Email

Mastodon

RSS

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

This site does not track you.

Wrathful compassionate bodhisattva Fudō Myōō statue, holding a sword and a noose

In response to yesterday’s post, a friend wrote to me: “I have been thinking about this a lot and I have been coming closer to the side of offering compassion to people with views I don't agree with. It's definitely a luxury to do this as I am largely unaffected by the views they have, but it is my understanding that these views are often inherited and come from a place of ignorance and fear. Does defeating someone not just leave them with a resentment which they will want to avenge?”

I think these are good points, and I should have made it clear that to defeat someone does not mean acting as their enemy. But compassion necessitates making judgments of care and concern. I think it is a dangerous mistake to assume that everyone is equally well-intentioned, or well-intentioned at all. And, if a person is not well-intentioned, that does not mean we should not have compassion for them, but it is important to prioritise; when someone is being abused, we can have equal compassion for the abuser and the abused, while prioritising stopping the abuse and helping those who are being harmed.

While realising that some people need to be defeated, compassion means we can be an opponent rather than an enemy. Of course, some people when defeated (by which I mean stopped or thwarted from abusing or exploiting people) will be resentful and will seek revenge. I have no solution to offer. This is why class struggle has no end.

#compassion #ClassStruggle #activism #ScottishBlogs

Email

Mastodon

RSS

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

This site does not track you.

people on tower block veranda holding living rent banner

This article by Connor Beaton on Living Rent’s failure to address a bigoted faction of its staff speaks for me.

I am a member of Living Rent (I was on the National Committee from 2020-2021, but decided not to stand for re-election) and of the Wyndford Tenants’ Union, though I am on the verge of leaving the latter, because it is currently only a vanity project for Nick Durie and Ellenor Hutson. I was on the WTU committee, but resigned because I was not told there was going to be a vote at the meeting at which Sam Sharp was ousted in a coup, so I did not attend.

Living Rent’s emphasis in dealing with bigots seems to be on “educating” such people out of such views. I think this is a dangerously flawed strategy. It assumes that everyone is equally well-intentioned, and that bigots simply need us to teach them how we are right and how they should be more like us. We do not extend this benefit of the doubt to landlords; rather than trying to educate them to stop exploiting their tenants, we seek to defeat them. Similarly, I have no interest in “discussion” with bigots — I want to defeat them. I want to stop them from causing harm. Dialogue with bigots is a luxury of the privileged, of those who are not actually being harmed by bigoted speech. To treat such people with “respect” is to treat the people they are harming with contempt.

On December 1, I wrote to LR’s National Organiser, its Glasgow City Head Organiser, and its National Secretary, expressing the above concerns and suggesting that the organisation’s lack of response, far from making this issue go away, had only intensified it, something that would obviously continue until honestly addressed. Since then, aside from suggestions that we have a meeting to discuss it, still unscheduled, it has not been addressed at all, so Mr Beaton’s article on the Republican Socialist Platform is necessary and valuable.

#LivingRentGlasgow #NickDurie #EllenorHutson #transphobia #bigotry #WyndfordTenantsUnion #SamSharp #ConnorBeaton #RepublicanSocialistPlatform #ScottishBlogs

Email

Mastodon

RSS

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

This site does not track you.

I have had several conversations with people who, when I argue that it is morally indefensible to use Twttr, respond by saying, “But that’s where people are.” Most of the people who say that are writers trying to promote their books on there, and they seem not to realise that if social media helped sell books, they would be among the world’s bestselling authors, which, to make an enormous understatement, they are not.

The alternative to Twttr, Mastodon, is not only morally superior to surveillance capitalism (which is not difficult), it is superior in its effectiveness as media. One of the writers on there I find the most interesting is Aral Balkan, a creator of Small Tech. A recent post of his shows that Twtter is simply not fit for purpose:

screenshot of mastodon, details in post

#AralBalkan #SmallTech #fediverse #mastodon #SurveillanceCapitalism #algorithm #ScottishBlogs

Email

Mastodon

RSS

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

This site does not track you.

red santa muerte, standing beside candle

The cognitive dissonance continues. Glasgow Live reports that Scotland may have no available hospital beds in a matter of days, that new restrictions are “inevitable”, and that Glasgow has 34 covid hotspots.

But, when I put on two masks and ventured outside this morning, I walked through a world in which none of this is happening, and where more people are unmasked than masked — even in lifts.

While it’s easy to blame individuals for such recklessness, the culprit is the Scottish government. A year ago, Nicola Sturgeon asked us to “perhaps think” about taking precautions. Mere thinking, of course, was not enough. The British Medical Journal and The Health Service Journal warned that the government was making an error that would “cost many lives,” and it did. People died, while other people legally danced unmasked in clubs.

Last week, Ms Sturgeon “strongly urged” us to postpone Christmas parties.

How can the Scottish government expect people to take this plague seriously when all we get is suggestions, not rules? We are not “strongly urged” not to drive drunk; we are banned from doing so. We are not “strongly urged” to wear seat belts, or to observe speed limits; we are required to do so. But, in its abdication of leadership in the pandemic, the government is allowing us to choose which world to live in, the real world or a fantasy one. The real world — in which a new variant of a lethal virus is, in the words of Ms Sturgeon, like “a tsunami” — will win, and people from the fantasy world will continue to sicken and die.

#omicron #covid19 #NicolaSturgeon #ScottishGovernment #ScottishBlogs #glasgow #PlagueDiary

Email

Mastodon

RSS

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

This site does not track you.

Yesterday, Linzi Heggie, Locality Housing Director at Glasgow Housing Association, admitted that the “consultation” with tenants as to whether the Wyndford high flats should be demolished will make no difference to the outcome.

Every household in the Wyndford, not just residents of the four tower blocks, but all tenants and homeowners in the area, has been sent a ballot on which they can vote on whether the buildings should be demolished. But, at a meeting with tenants at the Maryhill Hub, Ms Heggie was surprisingly candid about the outcome.

Norman Cunningham, a tenant who will lose his home in the demolition, asked Ms Heggie what would happen if residents voted against the plan. She repeated, twice, that most residents supported it. Mr Cunningham repeated his question, asking what would happen if most residents opposed the demolition. “Would it be stopped?” he asked.

“We would work with people to assess their needs,” Ms Heggie said.

I asked if this meant the demolition would go ahead no matter what. “We will talk to people about where they want to live after,” she said.

It was a rare moment of honesty for Ms Heggie that day. She was there with a housing officer supposedly to answer tenants’ questions about the “bright new dawn for the Wyndford.” But she ignored most questions, and simply repeated lines from the brochure GHA sent to tenants. It was hardly different from a recording being played.

She said everyone would be rehoused in the location, and type of house, they wanted. Mr Cunningham said he wanted to continue to live in a high flat in the Wyndford. “We’ve got high flats here,” Ms Heggie said. It was only when pressed that she admitted the flats were all occupied, but she said she expected there to be turnover. Enough turnover to rehouse more than 600 households? “Not everybody will want to stay in the Wyndford, or in high flats,” she said. She said the turnover rate in the high flats is 20%, while in the other blocks it is 7%.

Members of Wyndford Tenants’ Union and Living Rent have suggested that GHA’s plan is about gentrification, and that the new builds planned for the space currently occupied by the high flats will be unaffordable to the people who live there now. It was clear from Ms Heggie’s evasiveness that this is the case.

In response to questions from Sam Sharp, who emphasised that it is important to him to be near the city centre, as he works delivering food by bicycle, Ms Heggie said she could not promise that he would be rehoused in the Wyndford in a home with rent comparable to the one he is being kicked out of, but that there would be such flats available in other parts of the city. “So, you’re just going to keep moving us farther and farther out,” said Mr Sharp. Ms Heggie had no reply.

Another tenant asked how many new homes would be built. Ms Heggie said she did not know, and would not know until after a land evaluation. Asked whether the new homes would be social or private housing, she said it would be a mix, but did not give details. She said that tenants who want to live in high flats should consider Drumchapel or Knightswood, neither of which is near Maryhill, never mind the Wyndford, and far from central Glasgow. “You can take the bus into the city,” she said.

She asked a tenant if they had sent in their vote yet. The tenant said no, and Ms Heggie tried to convince them to cast their vote right then and there. “You can do it with us, today,” she said. The tenant declined, saying they needed more information.

But, by Ms Heggie’s own admission, it is clear that it does not matter how tenants vote. If the vote supports GHA’s proposal to demolish, GHA will demolish. If the vote rejects GHA’s proposal to demolish, GHA will demolish. The “consultation” is only a clumsy performance. The decision has been made, and its announcement in February 2022 is only a formality. The evictions will happen 9 or 12 months later, according to Ms Heggie.

“GHA cares, and will relocate you wherever you want,” Ms Heggie kept saying. A few people laughed, but not in amusement.

Linzi Heggie was Head of Housing Services at Cube Housing Association, before Cube was acquired by GHA, so it seems likely that this plan has been in place for a long time, and was part of the acquisition deal. When this was suggested to her, Ms Heggie said nothing. When Norman Cunningham compared it to the demolition of social housing on Collina Street and the Butney, and the subsequent selling off of the sites for private housing, she said, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

invitation to a public meeting on December 4 2021 at 1pm outside the Maryhill Hub to protest GHA's demolition of 600 homes

#LinziHeggieGlasgowHousingAssociation #WyndfordHighFlats #maryhill #glasgow #GlasgowHousingAssocation #CubeHousingAssociation #gentrification #landlordism #SocialHousing #SocialCleansing #classism #WyndfordTenantsUnion #LivingRent #ScottishBlogs

Email

Mastodon

RSS

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

This site does not track you.

Plays 2 by Sam Shepard

Towards a New Manifesto by Theodor Adorno & Max Horkheimer

The Tragedy of the Worker by the Salvage Collective

The Zen Canon by Steven Heine & Dale S. Wright

The End of Summer by Harumi Setouchi (reread)

What Starts Here Stops Here by babs nicgriogair & Annabel Wright

#MonthlyReads #books

Email

Mastodon

RSS

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

This site does not track you.

cover of what starts here stops here, drawing of robin flying over glasgow

“A gallus wee Glesga robin is blown off-course by an unseasonal gale onto a rollercoaster flight of discovery in the Dear Green Place.”

There are important books that make for grim or difficult reading. What Starts Here Stops Here: A Tale of Glasgow and the World is not one of them. It is a book of urgent importance, but it is also a joy to read. Combining the incantatory writing of babs nicgriogair and the glorious artwork of Annabel Wright, it is presented as a children’s book, and it is that — but it is a children’s book for adults, and also an adults’ book for children, showing the history of Glasgow, and of the racism, classism, capitalism and arrogant human exceptionalism that has brought the world to its present (and likely final) crisis.

Told from the perspective of a time-travelling robin who meets James Watt, Angus Smith, and “the Birdman of Pollok” Colin MacLeod, as well as interacting with Glasgow’s murals, this short, huge, beautiful book not only diagnoses our societal disease and its causes, but gently points the way to health.

#ScottishBooks #ScottishWriting #ScottishArt #anthropocene #glasgow #ClimateCrisis #BabsNicgriogairAuthor #AnnabelWrightArtist

Email

Mastodon

RSS

Profile at Scottish Book Trust

This site does not track you.

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.