Catriona Stewart reports in the Evening Times today that Govanhill is one of the most talked about communities in Glasgow and yet when council bosses held a public consultation in Govanhill to allow locals to vent their frustrations only 20 people turned up. Perhaps the reason local people refuse to show up at these meaningless consultation meetings is because they know it is an absolute waste of time.
For over eight years now, local people have pleaded with politicians and officials from Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council at public meetings to tackle the crime, filth and slum like conditions to be found in Govanhill. Those pleas have fallen on deaf ears and Govanhill continues to spiral further into decay and decline. Instead of questioning the apathy of local people to attend these public consultation meetings, Ms Stewart from the Evening Times should investigate the failure of First Minister Sturgeon, Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council in tackling the well documented atrocious living conditions to be found in Govanhill and why these politicians and officials have ignored and abandoned Govanhill for almost a decade now?
In November 2013, local people presented the findings of a survey they had conducted at a public consultation meeting organised by Glasgow City Council. Those findings were supposed to have been fed into an evaluation of the Govanhill Action Plan at the time. Subsequently, when local people contacted officials and local councillors such as Gordon Smith, Councillor Soryia Siddique and Councillor Mhairi Hunter for an update on the evaluation process they were met with silence and blank walls.
Despite the so called Govanhill Action Plan in operation since 2010, lack of transparency and action on behalf of Glasgow City Council in dealing with the worsening living conditions in Govanhill led angry and frustrated local people to organise a protest march and petition in the spring of 2015. These protesters marched to the constituency office of First Minister Sturgeon and personally delivered their petition requesting her to intervene on their behalf to save Govanhill.
Although Sturgeon gladly posed for selfies as she took possession of their petition, she was a ‘no show’ when invited to attend a public meeting organised by local residents in July of 2015 to provide a progress report on her promised intervention. This was despite assurances she had given to campaign organisers in May 2015. At the meeting Sturgeon stated that their campaign demands were reasonable and feasible solutions to tackle the issues which blighted Govanhill. She agreed she would bring to the table the decision makers within Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council who held the power and had the capacity to regenerate communities and therefore solve the problems which blighted Govanhill. To date Sturgeon has yet to bring those decision makers to the table.
If Govanhill residents now demonstrate apathy towards attending public consultation meetings organised by Glasgow City Council to discuss and identify the problems to be found in Govanhill, it is because they moved beyond the phase of identifying the problems at least three years ago. They want to see solutions that work implemented and have provided First Minister Sturgeon with a list of those solutions in the form of their campaign demands. Govanhill residents are not apathetic, they simply understand that if you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. Over to you First Minister Sturgeon and Glasgow City Council on that one.
Summary report of survey findings presented by local Govanhill residents at the Public Consultation held at Holyrood School November 2013 organised by Glasgow City Council
List of campaign demands given to First Minister Sturgeon in May 2015