Two days before New Year 2016, local Govanhill people invited filmmaker Gary Barton to come and document the lack of progress of Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council and Govanhill Housing Association in tackling the ghetto like conditions to be found in Govanhill. Every picture tells a story and what we saw was the evidence which proves that despite 5 years of the Govanhill Partnership and the Govanhill Action Plan funded by Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council, Govanhill remains a district in the south west of Glasgow which continues to spiral into terminal decline and deserves its reputation as Scotland’s Ghetto.
Since 2010 and as a member of the Govanhill Partnership, Govanhill Housing Association were funded by Scottish Government People and Communities Fund to renovate the back courts in south west Govanhill. After completion of the back court renovation programme, they were awarded a further half a million pounds to train up 40 backcourt wardens tasked with the role of working with Glasgow City Council to clean and maintain these backcourts to a reasonable standard.
In 2015, Glasgow City Council were given permission from Scottish Government to designate four blocks in south west Govanhill as an Enhanced Enforcement Area and yet they have failed to use the additional powers they now have to improve the housing and environmental conditions of some of the properties and backcourts shown in the film. Even more concerning, some of the worst housing and environmental conditions which we filmed now exist in blocks not covered by the Enhanced Enforcement Area. Surely the film provides the evidence that all of Govanhill must be designated as an Enhanced Enforcement Area and that Glasgow City Council must implement the additional powers to intervene in order to eradicate the slum like conditions which now exist?
As part of the Govanhill Partnership and Action Plan, Glasgow City Council have deployed Community Enforcement Officers from their arms length organisation Community Safety Glasgow into Govanhill since at least 2010. However throughout 2015, not one fixed penalty fine was issued by these so called officers for fly tipping, despite the fact the streets are littered with rubbish, discarded mattresses, fridges and furniture. It would seem from experiences coming from local residents that these officers wear glasses that only allows them to see cigarette butts and bus tickets being dropped and then they appear from nowhere to issue on the spot £80 fixed penalty fines.
As we now go into 2016, surely the time has come for Nicola Sturgeon as the local MSP and First Minister for Scotland to take control of the dire situation to be found in Govanhill. The measures taken by Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council and Govanhill Housing Association have proved to be an abject failure despite millions of pounds of taxpayer’s money being wasted. It is time Nicola brought the real decision makers to the table just as she promised us she would in May 2015. It is time that Let’s Save Govanhill’s list of demands are implemented. Nicola Sturgeon has the power to save Govanhill. We urge her to exercise that power now.