Tenants About to Lose Their Homes Have Questions for GHA
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:
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?
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?
Why was this not put forward in the consultation/propaganda for the merger with CUBE?
Why was GHA making decisions about the demolition of property they did not own at that time?
Did GHA consider the implications of asking tenants how ‘excited’ they were at the prospect of their homes being demolished?
Why does the consultation not offer us a way to support regeneration while keeping the 26 storey blocks?
Why did they not include questions asking about negative impacts on tenants?
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?
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?
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?
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?
Will there now be a major impact on the already long wating lists for social housing in Glasgow?
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?
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?
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?
How are we to form an opinion on regeneration when such scant information on the regeneration has been provided?
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?
On what basis are GHA involved in the ‘regeneration’ of The Hub, a council property?
What discussions have been had with GCC about this?
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
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?
Does GHA acknowledge that the high rates of turnover are due to the flats being used as transitory accommodation for asylum seekers.
Does GHA acknowledge that there are many long-term (up to 41years) residents in the tower blocks?
Does GHA acknowledge that there are many tenants who intended to become long term residents?
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?
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?
Have GHA done Equality Impact Assessments on the plans to demolish the blocks? If so what was the outcome?
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
GHA claim it would be “very difficult, or impossible, to make [the 26-story blocks] energy-efficient”. What is the basis for this claim?
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?
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?
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?
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