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ppp Friday, 27 September, 2002, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
'Drumchapel's a really lovely place'
Margaret McDonald
Margaret McDonald is worried community spirit will be lost
By BBC News Online Scotland's Murray Cox

Margaret McDonald has lived in Glasgow's Drumchapel area for more years than she cares to remember, and despite it being infamous for drugs and deprivation she defended its reputation vigorously.

"Drumchapel," she said, "is a great place to live. It's got a real sense of community and I couldn't ask for a better set of neighbours."

Miss McDonald, a retired clerical worker, was extolling the virtues of one of Glasgow's largest council housing schemes because she fears many people will be left high-and-dry if a proposed transfer of housing stock to what she perceives as the private sector goes ahead.

Glasgow City Council, with the support of the Scottish Executive, would like to transfer its housing stock to not-for-profit housing associations which would be able to secure private finance for desperately needed renovations.

Miss McDonald believes these flats will go

The council vehemently denies that this amounts to privatisation, but that is certainly the perception of many residents like Miss McDonald.

If the transfer is to go ahead a lot of property in the area would be demolished and new houses built.

Miss McDonald, who lives in a well-kept flat in Drumchapel, said her own home is under threat of demolition if the transfer goes ahead. That, she said, makes no sense.

"It's a shame because lots of the people here came in as young couples and reared their families here and then an officer is going to come along and say 'Is that your house, we're going to demolish it, we're going to build private houses'."

Despite the fact that much public sector housing in Glasgow is sub-standard, Miss McDonald believes demolition is not an answer.

Broken window
Concerns over future for residents

"There are houses round here in the process of being knocked down and there is still people living in them.

"A lot of people don't want to move, this has been their home since they were more or less children.

"It's like they are saying 'demolish this, demolish that', as if people don't matter."

She added: "It's nice if you can afford a bought house, but not everybody can and that's why you need social housing.

"People need homes, and there are a lot of people who have bought their homes in different areas and got married, but marriages break-up, circumstances change, especially as it looks like there is another recession on the way."

Run down housing
Glasgow does have many housing problems

Miss McDonald said a change for the worse in Drumchapel had been gathering pace.

"Most of the changes I have seen have been in recent years with the deterioration of the area, with the houses being pulled down.

"But, of course, when the houses went empty they didn't bother to fill them."

Local people have questioned councillors and officials to find out why houses were being allowed to stand empty.

An answer, she said, had not been forthcoming: "They just run away and hide when you ask questions."

The reason for the changes and the decline is simple, she said: "Government policy, without a doubt and it has been even worse since 1997, because everything is moving much quicker."

Run down stair well
Miss McDonald believes government policy has let people down

Miss McDonald accepts that there are problems with Drumchapel and council housing as a whole, but she is adamant that it can be fixed within the existing system.

The current mess is firmly of the making of the authorities, she believes.

"At one time the council vetted their tenants and they were really quite careful and then they had an idea that if you put a bad tenant with a good tenant it would help the bad tenant.

"But it didn't work that way and the good people got out of that particular area and tried to get into another area."

As for improving things, she said: "I wish that the government at Westminster would write-off the debt. They've written-off debts for several private companies, I mean look at the railway."

The essential failing with the authorities in her eyes: "No compassion."

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