Police Scotland’s admission to Ms. Sturgeon at the recent Govanhill Regeneration Group meeting that housebreaking has become infectious and beyond control in the area has dealt a demoralising blow to locals. They are alarmed that such an admission is further proof that Ms. Sturgeon is presiding over the degeneration rather than the regeneration of Govanhill.
Election campaign manager for Ms. Sturgeon and local councillor Mhairi Hunter chairs the Govanhill Regeneration Group. Hunter promotes the group in mainstream media news outlets as the Government vehicle for the implementation of the regeneration plan for the area.
Last week, when questioned by a local resident about the validity of the group and its plan, Councillor Hunter was unable to answer the most basic of questions.
However, after consulting with Glasgow City Council employee Gordon Smith, she was able to eventually respond that no actual terms of reference existed for the group. Indeed, as explicitly stated by Hunter herself, it is an informal group with an informal plan. Meaning it has no statutory power to create and implement any meaningful rescue plan for Govanhill.
When asked if she could attend the next scheduled meeting, Ms. Hunter told the inquisitive resident that she absolutely did not, under any circumstances pass the informal eligibility test to attend. She wasn’t getting in and that was that.
Are some residents therefore correct in their assumption that the Govanhill Regeneration Group is nothing more than a useless talking shop and the plan not worth the paper it’s printed on? Established local residents are painfully aware that the last thing they need is yet another talking shop and useless plan in Govanhill.
They need less talk and more action from their elected representatives. They know Govanhill needs real leadership, vision and a dynamic rescue plan to bring it back from the degenerative abyss of despair which engulfs it now. The informal plan by the informal group as shown below is hardly deserving of what is really needed to save Govanhill.
According to the plan, locals should now be experiencing a sense of common identity amongst its communities and a growing sense of pride in Govanhill’s diversity. To the average person not schooled in the politically correct jargon of the public and charity sectors, the above intended outcome is meaningless and incomprehensible.
In reality, established local residents believe their sense of identity has been trashed. It has no relevance in the mythological Govanhill that is being portrayed in the media by politicians and then reiterated by the well paid charity spokespersons on behalf of those who hold the purse strings.
Only positive stories of harmony and integration are allowed, those who disagree will be discredited on social media and silenced by the cadres otherwise known as charity workers. They most certainly will never be eligible to attend Ms. Hunter’s Govanhill Regeneration Group.
With regards to the economy, Govanhill is increasingly earning the reputation of a place to avoid rather than to visit. That is unless you want to spend money in a brothel or purchase heroin to chase the dragon up a close. This booming night-time economy of brothels and drug dealing appears to be bucking the trend of economic decline in Govanhill.
Worryingly, these illicit and illegal businesses may be considered lucrative career path-ways for the multitude of youths hanging around street corners?
As of now, according to the plan, people should be witnessing an improvement in the environment caused by a reduction in littering and fly tipping. So why is Govanhill still flagged up as the number one hotspot in the Southside area for littering and flytipping by Glasgow City Council?
In terms of health and social care, the plan states that Govanhill residents will now have a better understanding of, and be making more use of services and facilities that exist to promote and support well-being.
This element of the plan has been successful, but with success comes challenges and capacity is now one of those challenges. Established residents are becoming increasingly frustrated and concerned that NHS services within Govanhill has now exceeded intended capacity.
They claim that making an appointment to visit their GP within an acceptable and suitable timeframe for them is becoming more difficult. Unwilling or unable to wait, they are being directed towards nurse practitioners within the surgeries rather than being treated by their doctor.
An influx of newcomers to the area has resulted in a flourish of well-being charities arriving in Govanhill. These charities are publicly funded and have become so lucrative and successful at pulling down government grants that a building capacity problem is looming in Govanhill. There are now too many charities flush with cash and not enough venues for their well-being activities.
In order to overcome this building capacity problem, Gordon Smith has been instructed by Hunter to research the feasibility of Glasgow City Council purchasing a large vacant church which could then house the flourishing well-being charities.
Astonishingly, this feasibility study will be carried out, despite the harsh economic reality that Glasgow City Council is in the process of selling off and mortgaging their existing property portfolio in order to pay off a half billion pound debt.
The fifth element of the Govanhill Regeneration Group plan concerns itself with housing. Improvements should now be evident within the private sector housing stock, especially those tenement properties with the most immediate and pressing needs.
It is difficult to ascertain just how the Govanhill Regeneration Group’s claim of improvement can actually be evidenced, considering that only recently squatters were seen living in properties deemed so dangerous that demolition orders were attached two years ago. The dangerous building still stands and authorities have no idea who is squatting and where.
Govanhill Housing Association have been awarded £47 million pounds to acquire 350 flats within the private sector housing stock in Govanhill, with the aim of taking on the factoring role within tenement blocks.
Critics of this acquisition programme are not convinced that Govanhill Housing Association have the necessary skills, expertise and capacity needed to solve the scandalous housing problems in Govanhill
There has been concern by some residents that the performance and track record of Govanhill Housing Association as a landlord and factor is not what it was in the past.
Disgruntled critics claim the association can barely manage to deal with unsociable tenants, infestations of vermin and shoddy maintenance work within their existing property portfolio. So how will they manage their increased factoring role in Govanhill? Some of the communal areas in their existing housing stock are so filthy, observers have joked that rather than wiping your feet on the way in, you need to wipe your feet on the way out.
They can’t even keep their new build property on Victoria Road free from vermin infestation. The new build property which has only been inhabited for three months is already being treated for mice infestations. So why have they been handed such a large sum of money to buy up slum properties in the hope that they can dramatically clean up and improve Govanhill?
No feasibility study or consultation involving private sector builders and developers was ever undertaken by Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council before the £47 million pounds of public money was awarded to Govanhill Housing Association. Questions must be asked and answered why this was so.
Learning is also considered as being a key element and the plan states that greater engagement with services should now be apparent. It would appear that the only thing apparent is that school truancy is a problem within Govanhill and that Glasgow City Council do not have sufficient staffing levels to deal effectively with the problem.
The shocking revelation that primary schools in Govanhill are infested with cockroaches, bedbugs and mice is hardly an encouragement for parents to send their children to schools located in Govanhill. Even teachers reported to the press that they simply couldn’t endure being in the school premises any longer.
Short of Ms. Hunter instructing Glasgow City Council employee Gordon Smith to get himself a pass and go visit Dunvegal Immigration Centre to inspect conditions for criminals, who when taken into custody, gave an address in Govanhill. The Govanhill Regeneration Group has not concerned itself too much with tackling serious organised crime in Govanhill which includes sex slave trafficking and industrial scale benefit fraud.
Instead they have chosen to concern themselves with low-level crime and anti social behaviour. The final element of their plan on safety states that due to enforcement activities, low-level law breaking and anti social behaviour will now be reduced. People will now feel safer and have less fear of crime.
If this is the case, why did Police Scotland at the Govanhill Regeneration Group meeting held last week inform Ms.Sturgeon that housebreaking was so infectious in the area that there was only a million in one chance that the thieving housebreakers would be apprehended?
In late December of last year, Police Scotland appealed for any witnesses to an attempted murder on Dixon Avenue to come forward. There have been two serious stabbing incidents on the streets of Govanhill since the start of the year.
Last Saturday, Police Scotland had to be called to break up a violent large-scale street rammy involving youths hanging around a street corner. An injured victim required medical assistance and was later taken to hospital.
These past few weeks have seen several business robbed, including a charity shop on Victoria Road which had the windows smashed in and the safe plundered. It would therefore be impossible to convince people that they should feel safer and have less fear of crime, despite what the plan says.
Many local Govanhill residents feel utterly demoralised by this lack of evidence to suggest that conditions are actually improving in Govanhill. They are not convinced that the informal Govanhill Regeneration Group with their informal plan is fit for purpose and that Govanhill will be rescued from falling even further into a degenerative abyss of crime, filth, squalor and despair.
Instead what is urgently required is strong leadership and powerful vision from Ms. Sturgeon. She is fully aware of the degenerative abyss engulfing her Govanhill constituency. She knows that the Govanhill Regeneration Group needs to be disbanded and their plan ripped up and thrown in the bin.
She also knows that Govanhill is running out of time and urgently requires a bold dynamic rescue package to reverse the degenerative abyss of despair which has taken hold. Govanhill needs rescued and hauled back into the 21st century now.