Around 35 home owners and tenants invaded Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) headquarters in Trongate on Wednesday 30 March, to complain about shoddy work on their properties.
Said leader of the Glasgow Home Owners and Tenants Association, Sean Clerkin: ‘We are demanding an independent survey of the overcladding and re-roofing work which has been done in the city. We are sending a strong message to all the political parties during this election run-up, that there is a time bomb of ill-health and deteroriating properties because of the sub-standard work carried out.’
Vice Chair of the campaign, Anne Booth said: ‘We elect people to look after us. They are not doing this. When there is a problem they don’t help.’
A spokesman for GHA admitted the organisation was taken by surprise by the sit-in. He commented: ‘To date, we have overclad more than 36,000 homes across the city, making them warmer, drier and more energy-efficient. There have been issues with the work done on only a very small number of these houses. An independent survey carried out by the Building Research Establishment concluded that dampness found in a very small number of homes was caused by heating and ventilation issues and NOT as a result of the overcladding work.’
But the home owners who have been joined by tenants experiencing similar problems said: ‘We have proof of major sub-standard work with little or no proper quality assurance by GHA Ltd. The result is dampness has occurred and cracks have been appearing in properties in Bridgeton, Cardonald, Pollok, Springburn, Helenvale, Summerston, Parkhead, Sandyhills, Maryhill and Parkhouse, among others we have documented. Glasgow is sitting on a potential housing and health time-bomb.’
They claim that an independent specialist technical survey should be carried out to identify the full extent of defective work and remedy the faults ‘before disaster strikes.’
‘It is not being melo-dramatic to say the sub-standard work will increase the spread of bronchitis and asthma,’ said Sean Clerkin. ‘The fabric of buildings will also be damaged. We can foresee many of the properties having to be demolished in a few years’ time.’
A former tenant chair of GHA, Sam Harper, who received an OBE in the Queen’s Honours List for his services to social housing, told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘I am seriously considering sending the honour back because of this and other issues.’
The home owners, who are obliged to have GHA factor their properties, said they had 39 households making defects and dampness complaints in Pollok area alone. They claim that 16 tower blocks have had to be reclad for a second time because of faulty workmanship. ‘That is a large number out of 100 tower blocks in Glasgow,’ said their spokesman. ‘We have identified four areas where this is being done – Parkhead, Helenvale, Townhead and Sandyhills.’
There are 60,000 tenants and 26,000 factored home owners in Glasgow under the jurisdiction of GHA. The authority is not covered by the Freedom of Information Act so preventing indepth research.
Before the Scottish Parliament was dissolved for the election on 5 May, Alex Neil, then Minister for Housing and Communities, met with the Glasgow Home Owners’ Campaign’s elected representatives. But the outcome was a letter saying, essentially, the issue was one for GHA to deal with and not the Housing Minister. ‘This was very disappointing,’ said Anne Booth. ‘Someone needs to take responsibility for the shoddy work and the problems that people are now experiencing.’
Born April 5, 1934
Died November 24, 2010
Proud Garngad man, Tom Fitzpatrick, who died aged 76, was an intrepid press photographer during Scotland’s golden age of journalism in the 1960s and 70s. Then the country’s leading newspapers sold in excess of 700,000 copies a day and competition for exclusive stories and pictures was at its fiercest. The Scottish Daily Express and the Daily Record, both edited and printed in Glasgow, battled headline to headline and picture to picture for the coveted title of Scotland’s best-selling popular newspaper. Photographers, like Tom, fought for the “scoops” that would propel their title to the top of the circulation league table.
Working for the Express, Tom twice won the title Press Photographer of the Year and also Sports Photographer of the Year in the Scottish Press Awards.
Born at 487 Garngad Road, his house is still standing despite major redevelopment around it.
He was the youngest of three sons and attended St Philomena’s primary school where he excelled academically before going on to St Mungo’s Academy. He was also an altar boy at nearby St Roch’s Church in Garngad.
Aged 15, he started as a lift boy in the Daily Express building in 1949. He moved on to be a copy boy in the darkroom before becoming a photographer with the Daily Express and Evening Citizen.
A Requiem Mass was celebrated by Monsignor Noel Woods, in St Joseph’s Church, Tollcross, Glasgow, when Tom’s son, Robert, gave the eulogy.
He said: ‘Few of the journalists of that era could be accused of soft-heartedness or sentimentality. They made their name by sheer hard work.’
Reporters who worked with Fitzpatrick included big by-line people such as Stuart McCartney, David Scott, William Allsop and Andrew McCallum.
Fellow photographers included Ronnie Burgess, Ray Beltrami, Jack Middleton, Harry Turner and, occasionally, Fleet Street stars like Reg Lancaster, father of singer Rod Stewart’s glamorous wife, Penny, who flew up from London on royal visits.
Another good friend was the New York-based celebrity photographer Harry Benson who originated from Gorbals.
While hard news stories were the lifeblood of the Express, Fitzpatrick’s greatest love was photographing football matches.
An avid Celtic supporter, he always covered the Parkhead club’s matches, including all their European games. He was entrusted with the opposition’s banner by Celtic captain Billy McNeill to take back to manager Jock Stein in the dugout. Fitzpatrick was hugely proud to have been behind the goals in Lisbon, taking photographs, when Celtic won the European Cup in 1967.
After national service with the RAF in Germany between 1952 and 1954, he returned to the Express until the Beaverbrook operation was shut down in 1974 making 1,800 journalists, photographers, engineers and print workers, redundant.
Following this calamity, Fitzpatrick invested a great deal of time, effort and money in the ill-fated Scottish Daily News workers’ co-operative, in the Albion Street printing plant. When that failed, he freelanced before joining the Evening Times’ picture desk where he worked with distinction until his retirement.
He met his wife, Elizabeth, at the dancing and they married in 1957. When Tom died following a short illness, they had been together for nearly 60 years and had had four children; Thomas, Robert, Lisa and Mark and had 16 grandchildren.
Because of snow storms, grid-locked roads and abandoned rail services, many of Tom Fitzpatrick’s colleagues could not attend his funeral so a gathering will be held to raise a glass in his memory at the Press Bar in Albion Street, Glasgow, on Friday, December 10, at 1.30pm. All former colleagues are welcome to attend.
There was a gentle chiding for central and local government as Parkhead Housing Association (PHA) officially broke ground on their latest housing development, a £4m, 25-home project in Duke Street.
Addressing a gathering that included Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy, Frank McAveety MSP and Leader of Glasgow City Council Steven Purcell, PHA Chairman John Ferguson went a little off message in his welcoming speech to tell elected officials that while their work was appreciated by his community, more must be done to build homes and match the association’s ambitions.
He added: ‘We have 1,000 people on our waiting list. As far as Parkhead is concerned, if we can get the finance together, the ground together then we will build more houses.’
The newbuild in Duke Street, which is being developed by McTaggart Construction, will stand on the site of a bingo hall. Jim Murphy ruefully recalled that, as a youngster, he once applied for a job there but was happy to be back in an elevated capacity.
The project, which is funded by Glasgow City Council and a development loan from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), will provide homes for let and help secure construction jobs in the present downturn, said PHA Chief Executive Jim Strang.
‘This is one project, and we have three other big ones on the drawing board and if the funding is made available, Scottish Government funding, these will become a reality. We have the private funding in place for every one of these.’
RBS regards Parkhead as ‘a very good deal’, he said. ‘We’ve got the (private) money. If central government give us the money, we’ll do the rest.’
Jim added: ‘Whiterose area phases 2 and 3 are the next big ones, mostly family-sized houses, and there’ll be 55 of them.’
Other projects in the pipeline include the redevelopment of the Quarrybrae Primary School site for 48 to 62 low rise homes, while 16 homes over two closes in a C-Listed tenement in Helenvale Street are to be renovated.
‘At the moment we’re building for rent,’ Jim explained. ‘That’s the business we’re in. We know the economy of the area, we know the needs of our community and for the foreseeable future that’s our game plan.
‘If the opportunity arose for low-cost shared ownership we’re happy to do that.’
Young people aged seven-11 from Glasgow’s Playbusters community project have made a powerful short film to highlight the issue of child poverty in the UK to show to politicians and decision makers.
‘Wee Shots’ is a series of short films made by children from Glasgow, London, Oldham and Bradford. The young people talk about the impact of growing up in poverty in the UK and what can be done to tackle it.
Made in conjunction with Save the Children, filmed by Glasgow-based film company Urbancroft and sponsored by FirstGroup, the film was launched at a red carpet event at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Saturday 17th October.
Save the Children aims to use ‘Wee Shots’ to communicate to MSP’s how children live in poverty in the UK today and to strengthen support for the End Child Poverty Campaign.
Save the Children work extensively with children in poverty. 240,000 children in Scotland live in poverty – one in four young people whose parents struggle to get by every day.
90,000 of these children live in the most severe poverty when there simply isn’t enough money to pay for essential items. Save the Children believe that this is impossible and that even the basics — winter coats, decent food and back-to-school costs – can be crippling for families on such a low income.
Save the Children in Scotland is demanding that local councils and the Scottish and UK governments keep their promises to end child poverty and make changes for the poorest children.
To watch the films, please visit www.savethechildren.org.uk/endchildpoverty
Twelve young people from the East End have successfully completed Modern Apprenticeships in Housing Administration. Milnbank, Parkhead, Tollcross, Shettleston and Thenew housing associations all took part in the scheme organised by the East End Housing Regeneration Forum. The Apprenticeship offered paid employment and the chance to learn about working for a housing association.
During the apprenticeship, John Wheatley College kept in close contact with them to make sure the arrangement was working. The young people who successfully completed their apprenticeships have graduated and have now found work.
Cheryl Burns, one of the apprentices which Thenew Housing Association took on, has found work with a housing association on Glasgow’s south side, while Sheree Greenhorn is now employed full-time at one of Thenew’s offices in Green Street in the East End.
Cheryl said: ‘The Modern Apprenticeship programme is a great way of finding work and at the same time provides an opportunity to learn about what it is like to have a rewarding career in housing. I am very pleased to have found a job at Thenew.’
Charlie Turner, Chief Executive of Thenew Housing Association said: ‘We are proud to take part and share in the success of this programme. It created real job opportunities for young people from the East End and 11 are now working full-time.It is a great example of partnership working and we look forward to developing more opportunities like this in future for our young people.’
The East End Housing Regeneration Forum secured funding of £262,000 for the Modern Apprenticeship initiative and readily acknowledges this generous financial support from the European Union Social Fund, the Scottish Government, Glasgow Community Planning Partnership and Glasgow Housing Association.