Sunday, January 15, 2006
Increasing Anti-Social Behaviour Problems
At the community council the members were concerned. "This is happening all over Woodside!" exclaims one member.
The events of the past few weeks are familiar to most people in Cedar and across Woodside, and the problems have been going on for some time now. The police have stopped attending many incidents and many residents are at the end of their tether. What is all the more shocking is that the vast majority of these incidents are not the result of criminal gangs, drug traffickers or addicts (as much as those are real issues in this area) but are simply some very bored teenagers.
There is little or nothing for the large numbers of 12-13 year olds in this area to do, so as a result they amuse themselves by chucking stones and other bits of rubbish left lying about this area from all the half-assed jobs our various civil authorities (GHA, Queens Cross, Glasgow City Council) have abandoned. They daub grafitti on walls because there's nothing else engaging their creative energies, and they vandalise property because they've grown up in a scheme that has received little or no investment for decades. They are used to seeing live electricity wiring poking out of walls, windows broken, smashed or otherwise hazardous, lifts often unoperational with burnt-out entrances, closes that are covered in litter and dirt, bare, exposed asbestos where there should be walls and grim steel doors boarding up drying rooms filled with pigeon droppings and rubbish. If these kids hadn't grown up in a dilapidated environment and they had activities to do which were fun and burnt off some energy then perhaps they wouldn't spend their time smashing bottles and making a nuisance of themselves.
However the focus of the authorities has been so far to talk tough and be completely ineffective. Mobile street patrols of CCTV are being used to cover up for the fact that the real crime here is that the youth of Woodside have been completely let down by the council and now the GHA, who have between them closed our youth centre and allowed our area to become run-down and completely uninteresting and unengaging for our kids. I've been asking a few kids recently what they think of our area, generally I get told, "It's shite!" We, in the community, should be asking ourselves why our kids think this, and we should be talking to one another to see how we can achieve good youth facilities and an area and community our children can be proud of, not alienated by.
That is not to dismiss crime or the victims of Woodside youths, and there are real problems with drugs and violence in Cedar and the broader Woodside area as well, but we have to recognize that if the social services that we all want were in place and we had a strong and vibrant, clean and pleasant community then we might see a good deal less of the youth crime which is plaguing people at the moment.
Secondary Stage Transfer - what does it mean for Woodside
Queens Cross Housing Association, the Local Housing Organisation of the GHA in Woodside, is to take part in a pilot transfer scheme (assuming they win a ballot of tenants in the areas which are to take part). The areas which are to take part are Dundasvale, Cromwell and Burnbank. The st Georges estate, where Cedar Court is located, which along with some of the housing around Trossachs st forms the district of South Maryhill LHO committee, will not be balloted and will not take part. The same is true of Hamiltonhill (Hamiltonhill LHO committee).
Reading between the lines in many ways this development is suggestive. We already know that the areas which are not to be included in the trial are under what the GHA terms 'options appraisal', where they make pull our homes down at any time, whereas those areas taking part in the trial are not. Equally we have seen significant underspends in those areas not taking part in the trial with no corresponding underspends in those communities which the GHA and Queens Cross have chosen to include. It seems then no great leap to suggest that our homes are under threat.
Tenants have of course been given absolutely no role in developing these plans, and it goes without saying that we have received absolutely zero information on our area's future. If we want to stop this from taking place and/or achieve some meaningful say in what our landlord and our wannabe landlord are up to, we in this community will have to start to talk to one another, exchange information and try and co-operate to let each other know what these developments mean for all of us and what we should do about them. It should, afterall, be the job of a community to decide its direction, not the role of aloof housing professionals who almost always live somewhere else.
GHA buries awkward business plan
Tenants in the Cedar area only found out about it when a friendly housing camapigner alerted us to it.
The plan (which is available at: http://www.gha.org.uk/content/mediaassets/doc/Draft_Business_Plan_0607.pdf) will mean the demolition of 11,000 houses in multis across the city (corresponding to roughly half of all the city's tower blocks) along with a new charge for tenants in tower blocks as well as rent rises and a doubling of the service charge of home owners in years to come.
The plan also stipulates that GHA would like to see 50% of its remaining housing stock transfered to housing associations before the end of the year 2008. Tenants of Queen's Cross are to be balloted on whether or not they want to see their homes be transfered to Queens Cross Housing Association. If the GHA win the ballot then tenants in Burnbank, Cromwell and Dundasvale will have another change of landlord and Queens Cross Housing Asociation will becomeone one of seven of the first housing associations to take on the new role, in a series of pilot transfers.
GHA has a statutory obligation to publish its documents for public scrutiny and the plan is described a a draft, but they have not alerted tenants to it.