Cllr Alex Dingwall on Maryhill Locks “social home swick”

“Guys, really surprised by this story as the development of this site has been fully discussed for over three years in LHO and HA meetings, numerous community meetings at St Mary’s , presentations to community councils including both Maryhill and Wyndford & District and there is most certainly new social housing being built”

Author : Cllr Alex Dingwall
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The facts speak for themselves.

Council and Scottish Government officials have been reluctant to release documents relating to the land deals underway. Documents which have been leaked to the Angel feature ‘redactions’ (censored details). What have they got to hide?

The amount of houses to be built is 800 overall. 146 will be for social rent. That’s just 17% – less than a fifth. This makes a mockery of the hundreds and hundreds of social homes which were demolished to make way for this largely private development.

In the initial phase of development the council waived £3.8 million that was due to it, from the sale of the land. No-one was asked whether we wanted to give away £3.8 million of public land to private developers for free. In total it is estimated that the entire development will cost the council £100 million in such handouts to developers. Although no-one really knows exactly how much has been doled out, because the information is being withheld.

What we do know is that this is a plan created by a Labour ran council committee, which was endorsed by and SNP Minister, and is being supported by a Lib Dem Councillor. They all have to answer for why they demolished hundreds of our homes to give the land away for nothing to private developers.


Maryhill Locks Social Housing Deficit

‘Transformational Regeneration Areas’ abandon social housing

The land around Maryhill Locks has long attracted property developers. The Maryhill Locks regeneration Masterplan, which includes the Botany (‘The Butney’) and the Valley, was approved in 2008, and the first phase of 35 homes at the Botany was completed in 2010. Now, as part of the so-called Maryhill Transformational Regeneration Area (TRA),Maryhill Locks is set for a £15 million ‘regeneration’ programme with a “long-term goal” of 800 new homes. The Maryhill Locks TRA is one of three piloted TRA areas out of a total of eight in Glasgow.

Lib-Dem Councillor, Alex Dingwall, sent a newsletter through local letterboxes this summer expressing his pleasure at the development. He noted the shortage of social rented homes locally, so he was “delighted” to see around 100 new Housing Association properties being built. But wait a minute! With representatives from three local Housing Associations and the Maryhill LHO on the Local Delivery Group (charged with the delivery of the Maryhill TRA), surely 100 social rented homes out of a total 800 homes is a measly return?

The Maryhill Locks scheme is in many ways typical of new ‘mixed-development’ schemes. The idea is allegedly that private development ‘unlocks’ money for social housing. But what we really end up with is less social housing. With Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) committed to demolishing 30,000 of its homes, we are now seeing the replacement of that figure with more and more private homes, reducing the overall amount of social housing drastically. The crush on social housing supply keeps the private property market going, while ‘mixed-communities’ like the Locks raise prices through gentrification, and make the crush on “affordable” housing even more extreme.

The citywide TRA scheme is the brainchild of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) and the Scottish Government. A key element of the scheme was to persuade Scottish Ministers to ‘waive’ the “stock transfer clawback arrangement”, allowing any profits generated through private sector activity to be “recycled” into all eight regeneration areas. But the “clawback” arrangement ensured that income generated by the GHA from formerly council-owned land, could be “clawed-back” into public coffers. ‘Waiving’ this arrangement effectively amounts to a £100m million subsidy for the private sector to continue building and selling private and shared equity homes.

How do the figures stack up? Development and Regeneration Services figures show that the aggregate housing element involved in the eight TRA’s is 11,000 GHA demolitions, 6,000 Private Sector new build, and 3,000 Social Rented new build. That means Glasgow overall loses 8,000 Social Rented homes! Some transformation!

It’s about time we accepted that ‘regeneration’ is little more than “sugar-coated” gentrification – raising rents, privatizing everything, displacing the poor, and catering to middle-class taste. A recent report by the National Housing Federation confirms this viewpoint, predicting the UK housing market, already overheated, will soon be plunged into an unprecedented crisis with, “steep rises in the private rental sector, huge social housing waiting lists, and a house price boom – all fuelled by a chronic under-supply of homes”.

The need for strong independent tenants and residents networks to fight our corner becomes more obvious everyday.

Maryhill – A ‘TESCO TOWN?’

Fears are growing that the presence of Tesco in Maryhill in reaching saturation point. It follows the opening of another Tesco Express near the top of Queen Margaret Drive – just minutes from the door of the 24 hour Maryhill superstore that re-opened in late 2010. It also comes after the arrival of another, smaller Tesco Express opposite the Community Central Halls on Maryhill Road.

Already, concerns are being raised at the proximity of the new Queen Margaret Drive shop to a whole row of locally-owned businesses, from  coffee shops and cafes to a greengrocer and newsagents, that sit adjacent to the new Tesco. A low
profile sticker campaign – urging people to support local shopkeepers – has hit the street, with residents and shopkeepers alike expressing concerns that the arrival of the new store could have a detrimental affect on the street – and the wider community.

Local shops are in many ways the heart  of our  neighbourhoods. Yet thousands of small independent stores are being forced to close every year – leaving our high streets and local communities ghost lands, while consumers flock to out of town malls and huge hypermarkets along the lines of Tesco Maryhill. Here, the Burgh Angel seeks to bust some of the myths surrounding supermarkets and their supposed ‘benefits’:


Any job creation is obviously a good thing. But we need to keep things in perspective – most of the jobs big supermarkets create are low paid and insecure. In fact, Tesco recently trialled stores in which every employee – bar the managers – were on temporary contracts. It’s a far cry from the kind of mass investment in skills, training and secure jobs our communities need – and it gets even worse when big supermarkets have actually been proven to lead to a net decrease in jobs in the local area, given their impact on smaller businesses.

Cheapest food?

Popular logic would have it that supermarkets stock the widest variety of goods and have the lowest prices. Yet research has actually shown that supermarkets, especially when it comes to healthy food like fruit and vegetables, can actually be more expensive than smaller retailers.

The Angel View

Let’s be honest: most of us shop in Tesco – it’s hard not to. Many of us have friends and family employed there as well.. It would be madness to suggest that people should stop buying stuff from Tesco – but spare a thought for your local corner shops, and the long-term consequences on our high streets, as well. After all, Tesco are a huge, multi-billion profit making business – and the money they make for their shareholders has always been what comes ahead of the needs of
local communities like Maryhill – no matter how much their corporate spin might suggest otherwise.

Scotland on strike: Maryhill to Muirhouse, ordinary folk fight for fairness






Maryhill locals among those workers on strike at the Western Infirmary.

On the 30th of November Scotland celebrated St Andrew’s day with a huge strike by council workers, civil servants, dinner ladies, teachers, hospital workers, carers and service workers: nearly everyone in the public sector. In plans which will see hard pressed families being forced to work longer, for less, the government is raising the retirement age and making workers pay in more. The average pension for public sector workers is only £5,600 per year. George Osborne however would receive £32,977 per year, until he dies, if he retired tomorrow. The pension scheme for public sector workers, which was negotiated only a few years ago, was actually set to generate a profit for the government. The SNP condemned the move, but did not observe the strike, crossing picket lines. Labour observed the strike in Scotland, but attacked the decision to strike at the UK level, attending Westminster during the strike, prompting confusion and anger among many workers. As Scotland’s main political parties are confused and out of step about how to approach this issue, they are being left behind by dinner ladies, school teachers, cleaners, millions of ordinary people. Glasgow saw protest marches on the day, and rallies which were bigger than any seen in workers disputes in more than a generation. Negotiations continue, as government attempts to force through “final offers” of deep cuts seem, for now, to have become unstuck.

A question of power. Who wielded axe to Maryhill’s homes?

There is a big discussion going on around the country about which parliament,  Scotland or UK, should hold what power. Politics at a Glasgow level has become  a backdrop to this argument as there seems a real possibility that Labour will lose in the council elections here, allowing the SNP to take control of the umbrella body of Scottish councils (known as CoSLA): Glasgow is the most powerful Council that Labour still controls, and the elections for Councils are in May. Everyone is talking about power – who has it, why this or that body should have more or less power.
Nobody is talking about what they would do with this power. There is in fact a ‘crisis of power’ in this country. It seems that while for the first time we are to be given a choice on the constitution of our country, we in Maryhill are to be given no choice over the major direction of our community. We were not consulted on whether we wanted social home cuts, by either the (Labour controlled) Council or the (SNP controlled) Scottish Government who both made the decision. We were ignored over the schools issue in the past. Nationally if we Scots are to have more power in our Parliament, it has to be power that it is used to the service of our communities. Just as if we are to have”reindustrialisation,” then the ‘Green Revolution’ has to be about bringing working class communities

and Scotland’s poorer folk up: not just about jobs for those in the know, or for those from the right background. It is time for real power in our communities.

We heard this month from the Association of Scottish Community Councils that they will be ‘winding up,’ because the Scottish Government did not provide them
enough grant to continue to exist. There is no point in “devolving” power, or Scotland becoming independent, if Scottish communities are to be left with less
control over their own destiny than ever before. The Association – the umbrella body for Community Councils – made it clear that they believe many Community Councils are in crisis because they are not granted any real decision making power, and so many local people believe them to be irrelevant. The Angel understands two Community Councils in Maryhill are now considering merger. Community Councils need to be given the powers to act, if we are to have real local democracy at a community level. But Community Councils and residents groups often do not have a deep enough base in their communities, or a tradition of mass community action that would force government to take them

Scottish communities need to organise to assert their right to control their own destiny, and for the people of Scotland to lead the debate on what we in our
communities and in the workplace believe any new powers should be used for. It is time that Scotland’s citizens led the debate. It is time that we ensured any changes and improvements to the economy sought by Government are used to
raise people up. Together. That would be real democracy.

The Burgh Angel will be giving extensive coverage to the “Social Home Swick” throughout the local election, to see if justice can be done by Maryhill.