As news broke that primary schools in Nicola Sturgeon’s Govanhill constituency continue to be plagued by infestations of bedbugs and cockroaches, The First Minister responded with shocked surprise and vowed that more must be done to treat the pests. Ms. Sturgeon said ‘It is vital that the authorities continue to take a proactive and preventative approach as well as responding to requests for help’.
In the post war Britain of 1945 and with the introduction of the Welfare State, bold and ambitious plans had been put in place to eradicate the giant evils. So why for a decade has Ms. Sturgeon ignored the local indigenous population’s fears that those evils of want, disease, idleness, ignorance and squalor were becoming more evident in her Govanhill constituency?
Local Govanhill campaigners, who Gerry Hassan dismissed as the disgruntled left behind working class, have actively pleaded with Ms. Sturgeon to show greater political passion, conviction and courage when it comes to tackling problems in her Govanhill constituency.
Instead of providing a bold ambitious long term strategic vision to improve the area, Sturgeon has acted in a cowardly manner by reluctantly stumping up a series of short term band-aid measures intended to prevent Govanhill from being too much of a political embarrassment for her.
Perhaps her lack of political passion, conviction and courage will now come back to haunt her? Architects of the Welfare State such as Beveridge, Bevin and Attlee would surely turn in their graves at the thought of young children being educated in school buildings crawling with bedbugs and cockroaches.
Ms. Sturgeon is also aware that her Govanhill constituency has become notorious for organised criminal gangsters involved in industrial scale benefit fraud, human sex-slave trafficking and brothel keeping. An investigation into child sexual exploitation has yet to publish its findings.
In scenes reminiscent of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, economically inactive men and women regularly congregate around street corners in the filthy, squalid and crime ridden hotspots of Govanhill. Children can frequently be seen roaming the streets during school hours and playing in snooker halls rather than learning in classrooms. Compulsory education until sixteen years of age under the Education (Scotland) Act 1972 is often ignored in Ms. Sturgeon’s Govanhill constituency. Corner boys and fledgling snooker champs return to homes that are no better than those demolished as part of the slum clearances of the post war era.
Squatters inhabit dangerous buildings earmarked for demolition. Signs of brothel keeping, drug use and dealing are evident in the filth strewn and urine saturated entrances and back courts of the tenaments. It is in among these over crowded pre – 1914 tenament blocks of housing that the rats, mice, cockroaches and bedbugs thrive and multiply.
Govanhill campaigners are therefore surprised that Ms. Sturgeon could possibly be surprised that the local primary schools are now crawling with bedbugs and cockroaches. They’ve been providing her with shocking video footage of the filth and squalor that surrounds the school buildings for years.
Ms Sturgeon is now on record as saying it is vital that the authorities continue to take a proactive and preventative approach to pest control in schools. What she fails to mention is that under her direction, Scottish Government has discreetly funded Glasgow City Council for over ten years to provide a woefully inadequate, ineffective and inefficient pest control service in Govanhill.
In order to eradicate and control infestations of vermin, using the Damage by Pests Act (1949), Glasgow City Council has the power to gain access to all domestic dwellings and commercial properties within Govanhill. They have failed to use those powers consistently due to a need for political correctness and cultural sensitivity. Even when entry has been permitted, one visit for treatment with no follow – up has been the norm. Many local residents are convinced that the smoke bombs fired into their homes by Glasgow City Council Pest Control Services during their one – off visits has exacerbated the problem rather than eradicating or controlling it. The bedbugs and cockroaches have simply migrated into the neighbouring properties to escape death by smoke bomb.
The primary schools crawling with bedbugs and cockroaches in Ms. Sturgeon’s Govanhill constituency are merely the tip of the ice-berg. These infestations have not developed in isolation. They are just one of the expected consequences of an area which has been ignored and neglected for more than a decade.
Perhaps it is time for Ms. Sturgeon to learn from some of the political giants who have gone before her. Faced with the need to tackle the greatest evils prevalent in post war Britain, they formulated ambitious and bold plans and created the Welfare State. Unless and until she implements a detailed and intensive programme of recovery for Govanhill, she will have no right to stand on the shoulders of giants and proclaim herself as a champion and protector of our Welfare State.