Graham Campbell (Sighthill Tenant) writes: The Pinkston Tenants’ Association meeting in Sighthill on Monday 29th October went quite well in the end. Although it was attended by Paul Martin MSP, Springburn SNP Councillor Phil Greene and to my surprise (given I was chairing it!) two senior managers from the GHA – the first priority was what the tenants had to say about their housing. The GHA staff took reports of repairs needed and racial harassment occurring for one Zimbabwean asylum seeker resident who bravely spoke out and was supported by the tenants present from her church. It was the first time there had been a meeting including the misguided tenants who attended Compass/LHO’s so-called Consultative Forum – selected to exclude the PTA reps. These forum members have now had to recognise they need PTA as championed by Save Our Homes activists like myself and Elaine Ellis because the local Compass LHO has simply not “consulted” them for months after using them to gerrymander a yes vote for demolition from about 70 people at an open day in June 2006.
The GHA’s Director of Finance and Regeneration David Hastings responsible for housing stock (demolition) surveys and consultations began by explaining the GHA’s Housing Futures Assessment process and the difference between core stock which they want to keep and invest in – and stock for disposal i.e. demolition or handover to someone else. Hastings went out of his way to assure us that no decision had yet been made by GHA Board (which contains several high-rise residents including apparently its chair Sandra Forsythe) about Sighthill but that there was a deadline April-September 2008 but he hoped it would be much sooner than April.
In answer to tenants’ questions Bill Munsie (chair of what GHA calls Local shared housing services for north Glasgow) went even further and said that even if the decision by the GHA Board was to demolish – it would be ’some years’ (i.e. at least 5-10 years) before it actually happened. In the meantime some “holding investment” in the flats could still take place so that they are up to standard during the regeneration process.
For once the GHA people seemed to really listen to our sound arguments for the future sustainability of our flats, the spurious nature of Compass LHO consultations up to now; and the fact that even the GHA-funded GoWell mass health & population survey of 673 Sighthill residents (one of the 12 areas involved in this 10-year longitudinal surveys of 6,000 Glasgow residents on the impact of regeneration programmes) showed just 4% support for demolition with over 70% happy with their flats.
Some of the ex-forum members were very vocifierous in saying some Pinkston buildings should come down, criticising the damp and level of repairs needed. But they agreed that it was largely down to the anti-social behaviour of some tenants combined with chronic lack of maintenance and repairs by GHA that there lives were made unpleasant. When asked directly by me from the chair “if these were sorted would you stay in Sighthill? one of them said yes.
Once again the ODS consultants’ estimate for total refurbishment of £66 million was trotted out. This was hotly disputed as the exact real costs would be known to Compass/GHA based on the repairs records which landlords are obliged to keep for stock condition. In other words they know exactly how much each flat really needs and it certainly won’t amount to £66 million of refurb. The ODS/Compass 2006 stock condition survey which came up with the £55m figure was based on surveying just 2 flats (probably the ones in very poorest condition) in each double multi-block – just 12 flats overall)which they claimed would cost nearly £56,000 per flat!!
This was clearly nonsense since ODS were obviously assuming worst-case scenario for each flat when most flats are in good condition though need some work doing – they do not all need total refurb.
We know from other multies that a large part of water ingress comes form poor external cladding and roofing. Recent programmes for cladding similar buildings in Townhead and Edgefauld Rd, Springburn came in at between £1.5m and £2.5m per block. A maximum of £25million for all of Sighthill or just £10-15million if we’re talking Pinkston multies.
Demolition contractors had been appointed for Fountainwell multies and had held one local consultative meeting on October 21st 2007 aiming to complete the job during 2008.
In addition several tenants asked whatever happened to the new kitchens and bathrooms we were promised at stock transfer? Again the answer was dependent on whether Core investment or holding investment applied to Sighthill.
Paul Martin and Phil Greene seemed to be totally convinced now that the high flats do have a future and that a deal could and should be reached as to a mix of new build in Fountainwell and refurbished housing in Pinkston which keeps the existing Sighthill community together. Some older tenants asked if they would be guaranteed to return in the new build, but the GHA could not give that assurance because it would breach the equality of the housing points system to give preference based on seniority instead of on housing need. However the need for a written guaranteed right of return for existing tenants is one of the PTA’s key demands.
It was agreed to have a next PTA public meeting in early February 2008 with the same panel to report back on progress.