7 April, 2017 - 10:39

Cass Macgregor

Southside Central

Govanhill is the largest area in Glasgow’s four councillor Southside Central ward.  Those seats are currently held by two Labour and two SNP Councillors. Increased support for the Greens in recent polling could mean a larger green group than ever before, with the chance to hold the balance of power at Glasgow City council.

I’ve been out knocking on doors and listening to residents in Govanhill since November. There are many issues raised around poorly maintained housing; waste management, cleanliness and social cohesion. Often the issues are interlinked.

We need tougher action on rogue landlords and letting agents by Glasgow City Council. This issue has been raised by politicians of different parties and I will push for the council to take the toughest possible action on landlords who take advantage of tenants, don’t meet standards or fail to engage with the council.

Greens will also push for improvements to the Govanhill housing acquisition scheme to take property back into the socially rented sector. In the pilot acquisition scheme, 58% of properties were bought from privately let properties but the remaining 42% were from owner occupiers. This scheme has recently attracted further funds.

The scheme is definitely welcome, but must prioritise reducing the number of rogue landlords and empty properties in the area, rather than buying from owner occupiers. We also need to be willing to use compulsory purchase orders in order to do this. This is not just a question of resources but of political will. Well managed housing is fundamental to health and social cohesion and we cannot allow things to continue as they are.

Waste management is also linked to housing and how residents engage with waste facilities. The Green group will push for Glasgow City Council to sign up and work towards the ‘household recycling charter’. This could enable clearer labelling on packaging to help engagement and has been supported by Zero Waste Scotland.

Local residents should be involved in designing waste management systems that will work for them. Education and engagement around waste needs to go beyond written leaflets and at the moment, residents criticise the firefighting approach to what can only be described as a continual crisis in waste disposal and management. There needs to be a stronger fostering of the principles of reusing and recycling.  We need to consider the cost to both the planet and the council of a culture of waste!

Govanhill is the most ethnically diverse area in Scotland and has a great sense of community. However, it also contains some of the worst poverty in Scotland and, alongside poorly regulated housing, this has obviously led to problems.

Governments are very happy to take the benefits of migration but it is important that government services continually adapt to meet the needs of new migrants. We need stronger regulation of housing and employment conditions to ensure vulnerable groups are not taken advantage of. We also need government, including local government, to adequately plan and fund public services. When government fails to do this, we can see migrants being scapegoated.

As well as stronger housing regulation and management, the council could introduce COSLA’s plan for ‘welcome packs’ for new migrants. These could include the details for GP registration, tenant’s rights, public transport, waste management systems and may also need to be delivered verbally.

It could also be beneficial to see a Roma centre if this gains support from within and across the Roma community. This has potential to empower the Roma community and help integration with existing services.

Our local manifesto will be launched soon and cover Glasgow wide Green priorities. If you want to see a Green councillor for Govanhill, it’s important to give us your 1st preference vote on May 4th.

If you have any questions or want to help with the campaign please get in touch on cass.macgregor@scottishgreens.org.uk

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