Sunday, October 30, 2005
Lift Off Again!
Tuesday the 25th of October
Our lift is off again. The single event that casued the most anger and catalysed us to start the tenants association off was that the right hand lift in block 65 (the lifts go to every alternate three floors, the one 2, 8, 14 etc. the other 5, 11 etc.) was off for four and a half months leaving the elderly people in the lfats housebound, and making life more difficult for people with babies.
Since the lift was ultimately 'fixed' it has broken down or otherwise malfunctioned almost a dozen times. On the 25th of this month it did so again, leaving a young man trapped in the lift for over half an hour, until he was freed by the fire brigade. Naturally we have received no information on why this lift, which we all use on a daily basis in block 65, continues to break down. Why has it taking so long to fix these problems?
Various lift engineers and those with experiences of dealing with lifts have told us categorically that these problems are inevitable, due to the lift's extreme age (22 years), and from the scraps of information we have received from the GHA we now know that replacement parts which will be increasingly necessary as the lift breaks down more and more are hard to find because the GHA has made no attempt to store spares (an error justified on cost efficiency that leads to tenant misery which is grossly negligent and makes a mockery of GHA's claim to being a 'scoail landlord'). What is necessary is for the whole lift to be replaced with a modern one. This would undoubtedly be quite expensive, but they have 150 million in the bank which they're not spending, particularly in areas that are 'up for review' (ie that they may decide to demolish in five or ten years time), and the figures we're talking here are in the thousands.
What makes the most recent galling example of the lift breaking down so much the worse is the fact that tenants had been complaining constantly of the lift making loud, frightening noises during motion. This had resulted in lift engineers being called on two occassions. These engineers then left having found that the lift was still running. It was not repaired and nobody in the GHA bothered to explain what the actual complaint was, so they failed to identify that the lift was making terrifying metalic snarls.
Two weeks after the lift broke down with this young man in it. This is just another example of the chronic neglect that the Cedar area community has to put up with on a daily basis. Those who sit in these offices and make these decisions for us are never the people who have to put up with them afterwards. It may save GHA money, and be 'prudent' not to stock spare lift parts but for the people who are affected by these decisions it is a slap in the face, and for some (the longest standing tenants, some who will have been residents since the flats were first built) it is a virtual prison sentence. It's not on and it has to change.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Despite low turnout - perhaps because of GHA attempts to undermine our publicity - the general meeting at the George's Cross Chalkboard went well. A programme of events was arranged for the coming few months, as well as the election of office bearers for the next three months, and a strategy for winning back our basic resources and rights to organize worked out. Minutes of the meeting are distributed to all members of the tenants association.
The results of the elections are available to members through the minutes.
The programme for our upcoming events is as follows:-
Thursday the 3rd of November - General Meeting of the Association
[@ the Georges X Chalkboard]
Saturday the 5th of November - Surgery (open to all tenants and residents in Cedar)
[@ the Georges X Chalkboard]
Thursday the st of December - General Meeting of the Association
[@ the Georges X Chalkboard]
Saturday the 3rd of December - Surgery (open to all tenants and residents in Cedar)
[@ the Georges X Chalkboard]
* And every first Thursday and first Saturday of every month thereafter to be the General Meeting and the Surgery respectively
In order to discuss how we are going to win our basic facilities from the GHA, the Association began calling a general meeting of the membership, to take place on Thursday the 20th of October.
In order to publicize this members went round all the closes and landings in the scheme and put posters up inviting members and non-members alike to a meeting at the George's X Chalkboard (http://georgesxchalkboard.blogspot.com/). We became disheartened when we saw that many of these posters were being removed not long after we put them up. We put it down to weans being ignorant. However we were suprised to find out later, that it had been the head concierge; he informed a member of the association that the posters had constituted a fire hazard, that the children had been setting them alight, and had taken it upon himself to take all the posters down. He had also (perhaps to strengthen the pretext) quizzed the member why the association wasn't puting leaflets through everyone's door. Perhaps he should print them? Or perhaps GHA could give us access to our facilities so that we can run off leaflets ourselves?
At any rate the association is convinced that these childish and churlish attacks on our ability to organise as tenants was not merely off the bat of our senior concierge, but came from those at the housing. 'Just you take these posters down, and make up some reason why you did it,' rings much more true than the ludicrous idea that posters (which GHA is apt to put up in the same places when it feels like, or gets round to, informing tenants about something) constitute an intolerable fire hazard. This is especially true and the latter especially ridiculous when looking at the usual blase fire safety conduct shown by GHA - who are often happy to leave bagged rubbish in ever growing piles by bins for weeks, or who do nothing, in some cases for years, when antisocial tenants turn communal drying areas into makeshift cowps for the disposal of their rubbish - a phenomenon that has led to dangerous fires and that still remains in some cases to be dealt with.
Notwithstanding the behavious of the GHA on this occasion, the meeting did go ahead as planned.
Friday, October 14, 2005
October and the meeting room
However when Cedar Tenants again asked why it was that they were being prevented from accesing their facilities, they received the startling response, in writing from a GHA representative (Jane McGrory), that 'there are other facilities that can be used if the tenant [sic] wish'.
Naturally Cedar Tenants wished to find out about these other facilities, and book them for our meetings, but, when pressed about it, the line from GHA (Queen's Cross LHO) was that we had to return the original letter we had received concerning these facilities (presumably so that it could be destroyed, and the miscreant who wrote it punished), that the GHA representative had passed on incorrect information, and the the manager at Queen's Cross wished to have a closed meeting with members of the Cedar Tenants Association, ostensibly to find out what their needs were.
When asked to put this in writing Steven MacAvoy - heid bummer at Queens Cross (echoing a letter he had written previously on the same issue some months previously) wrote:-
"I am sorry to advise you that the room at Cedar is unavailable for use at this point in time.
The room presents some potential health and safety difficulties for GHA. The room in question is actually an integral part of the concierge workstation.
Can we suggest some alternative venues such as Woodside Halls or Maryhill Community Centre [sic].
I am on holiday until 01/11/05. however I would be happy to meet with you anytime thereafter."
So Cedar tenants are supposed to use community centres at a cost of around seven pound an hour because 'there is some potential health and safety difficulties' (what he is refering to here is the hole in the wall made some two years ago to fit an extractor fan that was never installed. it has hitherto, or at least before the inception of Cedar Tenants Association, never been an issue for any groups meeting in the room. Indeed while Stevie-boy was writing missives telling us the room was unsafe for us to meet in may months ago, he was simultaneously allowing a benefits advice drop-in organised through Queens Cross HA to meet there. Apparently the hole in the wall - some five inches or so, suspended 9 feet in the air - only presents health and safety problems to those of us with jobs? or is it something else Steve?)
The battle for use of our basic facilities as tenants in the area continues.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Meeting in the Chalkboard
Cedar Tenants Association makes progress, due to having a regular, free, public meeting space, in organising fundraising events and campaigning activities.
On the first Saturday in October Cedar Tenants Association holds its first surgery.
The day after we hold our first Bring and Buy sale.
The membership grows as a result of these activities.
The public meeting we called takes place on the 4th August in the Woodside Halls.
In it various new issues arise; tenants who attend this meeting raise a quite shocking list of problems.
The association makes an agreement to pursue the various issues and suggestions that were raised.
More On The Meeting Room
Prior to the public meeting one of our members receives a letter from Steven MacAvoy saying why we can’t use the meeting room in block 65. This letter is in response to telephone conversations with GHA officials regarding the use, or otherwise, and the official explanations for this, of the room.
The letter dated 3rd August claims that the room is unsuitable due to it being located in the conierge workstation, and cites the falsehood that it is being used currently as a store area.
Through the telephone conversations preceding this letter (which included intimidation of tenants association representatives – GHA officials requested names of inquirees and then hung up immediately) we were told that the official reason f why we were not allowed to use the meeting room was that, "The room is only for the use of GHA approved registered tenants organisations."
The Next Meeting
less people attend this meeting but a working constitution is battered out and agreed upon.
Again the meeting takes place in a drying room because GHA is still citing ‘holes in the wall’ as presenting a threat to tenants’ health and safety for meeting in the ‘cedar street meeting room’ where the GHA had initially held the meetings it had invited tenants to.
There is an agreement to hold public meeting.
[Minutes of this meeting are on record to members. Contact Cedar Tenants Association c/o the George's X Chalkboard]
The first start up meeting of Cedar Tenants Association takes place in the 22nd floor drying area of block 65.
A draft constitution is presented to the meeting.
[Minutes of the meeting are on record for all members to see - contact Cedar Tenants Association c/o the George's X Chalkboard]
Throughout June various requests to meet in the meeting room are made.
Concierge senior informs us we can’t use room for health and safety reasons citing a ‘hole in the wall’ (tiny hole was made two years prior, it later turns out, to make way for an extractor fan which was never fitted).
GHA insist during this period that this hole in the wall prevents them from allowing us to meet in this room. Cedar tenants are aware that these excuses are vacuous and untenable but there is no budging from GHA.
We held a small ‘lift party’ outside Queens Cross LHO offices Firhill.
We spoke to 'the Director of Policy for GHA' where we issued some demands not least to be kept informed and to find out information about what’s going on in the area. She “hear[d] what [we were] saying.”
The Lift had been off for four and a half months.
GHA officials had told tenants participating in these meetings that they were to 'act as a buffer between tenants and the GHA'.
What was meant by this was that if tenants had a problem the job of the tenants association, as the GHA saw it, would be to allow people to express their frustrations to the tenants association (a small committee). The tenants association would then carry their concerns to the GHA. The idea behind this was that concerned tenants would only speak to the tenants association.
In the case that the GHA wanted to announce something the role the GHA outlined for the tenants association would be to relay the message of the GHA word for word.
In effect what was being proposed was that a tenants association would be a small committee of known individuals who would be effectively co-opted into the management of the GHA. They even went to the extent of handing us 'our' constitution.
This was a total farce and Cedar tenants rejected the whole premise of a couthy, GHA-friendly committee by boycotting these meetings, which soon ceased taking place.
- The meeting takes place cedar meeting room 19th April, 7pm
- The GHA minutes refer to “cedar street meeting room”
- The GHA attend with one man dressed in a suit identified by the minutes simply as ‘GHA’ but no job title plus Margaret Docherty from tenants meeting who is the “acting community housing manager”
- The two GHA officials present ‘the constitution' and set the bounderies of the association for the tenants association without consulting anyone.
- Many people do not receive an invite to this meeting and nobody was asked whether the time and date suit.
[missive circulated over xmas/new year period]
The begining - lift off!
Some tenants and their supporters organize a public meeting in the nearby Woodside Halls because their lift has been off for some time.
There were some twenty or so people in attendance, including many people from outside of the Cedar Court scheme who were interested in the situation there.
The meeting was also attended by Margaret Docherty (at that point the Acting Community Housing Manager) who hides in the audience, and then begins interrupting people and being disruptive. When she was asked to leave she refuses. When asked again she makes a move to go but starts speaking to people 'to resolve their problems' while the meeting is continuing.
The right hand lift at 65 Cedar st. has been off for two months by this point.