Tenants in high flats across Glasgow have been left without working washing machines. To do a wash, their machines have to be filled by hand with water.
Glasgow Housing Association know about the problem, and know how to fix it. But shockingly, GHA are stalling with the fixes.
Student nurse Alice is a tenant in the Cedar Court high flats. She was left for more than a year without— a working washing machine.
“I am required to have a cleanly washed uniform for every shift for infection control.”
“That means I’m constantly running a washing load”
“But my washing machine just wouldn’t work unless I filled it by pouring jug after jug of cold water into the top. It took forever”
“When I phoned the manufacturer, they knew all about it. They said it happened all the time in Glasgow high flats. They said all the other cities in Britain had fixed their water pressure in high flats years ago, and that Glasgow was the last one left.
“But GHA didn’t want to know. At first my housing officer told me that a washing machine is a ‘luxury item’!”
“I finally got it fixed because I asked my housing manager about the problem in a public meeting organised by the tenants association. I was really angry and asked him if he’d dare tell his wife that a washing machine was a luxury item! The housing manager said that he didn’t consider a washing machine a luxury item in this day and age and the tenants association had the whole meeting on tape. I still had to chase it up though, and I also got my MSP’s to write to the GHA as well as a small article in the Evening Times.”
“That seemed to do the trick as without warning one morning I got a knock at the door to find 3 men in suits and 2 housing officers wanting to inspect my water tank. The GHA had hired consultants!”
“Then they told me they could only fix it by installing an electric water pump in my kitchen.”
“They tried to scare me off by saying the pump would be big and noisy and expensive in electricity.”
“But that was all nonsense – all I needed was plumbed in to the main water pipe.”
“Finally, after several months of weekly phoning my housing manager I got the fix I’d been waiting for. It took over an hour of the plumber’s time but it used to take over 20 minutes of my time every time I needed to do a wash. And my water tastes better too.”
When Glasgow City council built multi storey blocks in the 1960s and 70s, each individual unit was fitted with its own cold water tank.
That made sense at the time, since in those days the mains water supply was sometimes cut off for short periods. With each tenant having their own small cold water tank, they would always have water available.
But nowadays the mains water supply is reliable and is almost never cut off. The individual cold water tanks are not needed.
Modern washing machines need a higher inlet water pressure than the old models did.
Water supply drawn from the small local tanks is at a lower pressure than water taken from the mains.
New washing machines simply will not fill with water when connected to the low pressure local tanks.
An Easy Fix
Luckily, the fix is straightforward – simply disconnect the small local water tank and draw cold water direct from the main water pipe.
This procedure takes a plumber about an hour to carry out.
But GHA have to pay out to City Building Glasgow for the plumbers time.
And GHA don’t want to spend that money – except when a tenant insists.