notes from the northern colony

maryhill

Wyndord tower block, sunset

Three days ago, on Monday morning, I learned that Glasgow Housing Association plans to destroy the community I live in.

This explains why neither Cube Housing Assocation, nor its new owner, GHA, has cleaned the tower blocks in Wyndford for many months, while still cleaning the other buildings in the scheme, as I have reported here. On hearing the news, my wife, daishin, said: “I think GHA's lack of cleaning, building maintenance, and the continued lack of repairs in the high flats is a strategic move to make tenants want to leave the Wyndford.”

On Tuesday, members of Wynford Tenants’ Union, residents of the blocks that are to be demolished, held a meeting, outdoors, to decide what to do.

On Wednesday, I was interviewed by Glasgow West End Today about our plans. The article is a refreshing corrective to the one published in the Glasgow Times, which is effectively an ad for GHA.

GHA’s brochure is a work of weird fiction. The reality is that the four blocks of high flats are populated by a wonderful, diverse community. There are people who have lived here for decades, people who have lived here for years (like me), and people who have been here a short time and will move on soon. There are people of all ages, and more nationalities than I can keep track of. The reputation for criminality is mostly mythical. When we were offered our flat in 2017, I asked the housing officer how dangerous it really was. Her answer: “Nothing will happen to you here that couldn’t happen to you in Bearsden.” She was correct. What I was not prepared for, though, was the warmth and grace daishin and I have found here.

Bizarrely, GHA is letting everyone who lives in Wyndford, not just tenants of the high flats, but all tenants, and homeowners, vote on the fate of our flats. How would you feel if everyone in your neighbourhood was allowed to vote to evict you from your home, whether they knew anything about you or not?

GHA will soon learn the truth about the people who have made our homes in the buildings they are describing as “low demand” and “low occupancy.” We will support one another, and we will not go easily or quietly.

#wyndford #maryhill #glasgow #GlasgowHousingAssocation #CubeHousingAssociation #gentrification #landlordism #SocialHousing #DaishinStephenson #ScottishBlogs

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Graffiti on wall, the word ZEN with the second and third letters mirror imaged, above a painting of a spotted green mushroom, and a Fixodent box on the ground

It amuses and baffles me when street art is referred to as vandalism. If this is because of the quality of the art, it makes no sense, because the best street art — and there is a lot of great street art in Glasgow — is far superior to most commissioned “public art,” which tends towards the generic and mediocre. If it is because street art is done without permission, it makes even less sense, as most citizens have no role in deciding what “public art” is commissioned and created.

Graffiti, the letters ZEN haphazardly arranged

The city is a book of art and text in which artists and writers are constantly in dialogue. I love to read the city as I walk, and am fascinated when I see new work. Recently, I have noticed a new tag, which seems to be various arrangements of the letters ZEN, so of course I approve. Is this one artist mixing it up stylistically, or a crew with each member doing their own version? Does it refer to Zen, or is it initials or an acronym?

Graffiti, the letters ZEN, red paint on black

The three photos here were taken in the Wyndford, but daishin and I have noticed similar tags in other parts of the city.

#StreetArt #PublicArt #graffiti #zen #wyndford #maryhill #glasgow #ScottishBlogs

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In the last few weeks, quite a few supermarket trolleys have been strewn around the Wyndford scheme, some arranged so artfully it might be worth applying to Creative Scotland for an award. Presumably they are being taken from the nearby Tesco, but what are those who liberate them doing to bypass the automatic locking of the wheels?

#wyndford #maryhill #glasgow #urbanecology #scottishblogs

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A week after I asked Cube Housing Assocation about rumours from within that Managing Director Laura Henderson was to be laid off from her job, I received a response from Linzi Heggie, the organisation's Head of Housing Services. “In relation to your question about Laura Henderson, I can confirm that this information is false.”

#cubehousingassociation #wyndford #maryhill #glasgow #laurahendersoncubehousingassociation #scottishblogs #linziheggiecubehousingassociation

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UPDATE

Rumours from inside the organisation suggest why Laura Henderson has not responded to my recent questions; it may not be her concern anymore, as she, and the rest of Cube Housing Association's management, is said to be getting laid off as the organisation becomes part of Glasgow Housing Association.

“She's getting a golden handshake along with the rest of the managment there,” I was told.

I have emailed Ms Henderson to ask for confirmation, but previous form suggests a reply is unlikely. On the bright side, if she is no longer there, she will be no less answerable to Cube tenants than she has been for the past year.

#cubehousingassociation #wyndford #maryhill #glasgow #laurahendersoncubehousingassociation #scottishblogs #wyndfordtenantsunion

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Laura Henderson Photo: Cube Housing Association

Dear Landlords,

I remarked today to a fellow tenant (or “customer,” as you call us) that communicating with Cube is a bit like praying. But then I corrected myself, because when praying we do not know for certain that no one is listening or that our supplications will be ignored — which we can be certain of when communicating with you.

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A week after I posted this, the stairwells and lifts in the high flats on Wyndford Road are no less manky. I sent the link to Laura Henderson, Cube's Managing Director, right after I posted it, but I have had no reply from her, or anyone else at Cube. I did not expect one, but I hoped to be wrong.

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This is after cleaning

In a time of plague, Cube Housing Assocation's neglect of the health and safety of its tenants is medieval.

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There can be no denying the notability of Maria Fyfe, who died last month. Born in the Gorbals in 1938, the child of a tram driver and a shop assistant, she became, as Nicola Sturgeon said, “a feminist icon.” Rising to prominence in the days when the Scottish Labour Party was still left wing, she became the first female MP for Maryhill, Glasgow. And now there is a petition to rename Maryhill Library after her.

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This afternoon, members and allies of Wyndford Tenants' Union picked up broken glass and other litter in the housing scheme, a duty that is supposed to be performed by Cube Housing, and which tenants pay for in their rent.

Then we delivered the litter to Cube's office.

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