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Wednesday, May 02, 2007


The Red Road flats are a group of 8 blocks which, when put up in the early 1970s were the highest & arguably the grandest blocks of flats in Europe. Shortly after that high flats, which politically had been "the answer" to housing became unfashionable & the Council, in the tradition of self fulfilling prophecies, let them slip. Recently the Glasgow Housing Association decided that they should be knocked down & everybody rehoused.

Of the policies in my election address #26 was that rather than knocking down such blocks it would be better to give them to those occupants who don't want rehoused. I decided to do a special leaflet pointing this out & distribute it there & I spent yesterday evening doing so. Partly I was inspired by Matt Quinn's letter reproduced on 27th April here. "The place is in the state it's in because of WILFUL neglect on the part of the City Fathers; no other reason. They let the buildings rot, effectively condoned the violence and drugs and deliberately used the place as a dumping ground"

Having been there I believe there is nothing wrong with the place that could not be fairly easily fixed. I have delivered leaflets in North Kelvinside & I can say that there are closes there, where most of the flats cost 200 K, which are in a worse state of repair. I do not believe there is anything structurally wrong. It is a sin to knock it down.

Give the properties free to those who want to stay (& whom the rest don't have a serious problem with - such is the nature of dumping grounds). Put in place a good commercial factor (Glasgow has lots) with a strong factoring agreement. Get a proper community council going working with the new factors & police.… Give Mr Mo the franchise for a couple of 24 hour shops at the base of the bigger blocks (there are a couple of shops surviving but if actually linked to the blocks themselves people could buy things without having to go outdoors which would make them community centres. Encourage the building of a McDonalds (or Pizza house if we are going to be politically correct) & a pub (with good soundproofing cause sound travels upwards easily). Do a bit of repainting & replastering - not that much. There is a really horrible stagnant pool just behind the nursery school, which I suspect has been there since the earth was piled up during the building - clear it & put up a cheap prefabricated community hall. Also there are places where ownerscould buy 2 flats 7 knock them into one. Not within current rules but perfectly feasible.

All this would create a real community & I guarantee that in 6 months lawyers who work in both Glasgow & Edinburgh (it is near both the Edinburgh & Stirling motorways) would discover it. In 5 years it would be gentrified, an entrepreneur would be building a 3 level car park in the present parking space, Tommy Sheriden would be denouncing the fact that "ordinary working people" could no longer afford to buy (but were selling) penthouse flats & Scottish national heritage, God help us, would be wanting to list the buildings.

Opinions of those I spoke to were mixed. Some thought they were to far gone & should be knocked down, but even they thought they had once been fine. One told me it was a done deal & that the people were powerless because GHA had "already sold the land". And some saw the potential.

As I left it, last night I looked back at the flats. They are always impressive but, against a velvet night sky they stood out as pillars of light & they really are beautiful.

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