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.”
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