Noel Dolan, Director of Shelter in Scotland, outlines the state of housing in Scotland.
I n 1966 when Shelter was launched and ‘Cathy Come Home’ iirst televised, housing was very near the top of the political agenda. Yet, in recent years, while there has been much rapturous talk on the joys oi owner-occupation, housing problems and particularly the homeless have virtually been iorgotten. This bout oi collective amnesia is now at an end, and it is certain that housing in Scotland will be a major issue In the run up to the next general election.
The reason lor the renewed politcal prominence ol housing is simply explained: there is a housing crisis in Scotland. This is not just Shelter's opinion, but is a view shared by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the housing association movement, the churches and by a score oi other organisations. Indeed, even Mr Malcolm Rilkind, Secretary at State for Scotland, is worried and wants to be seen to be taking action.
Of course the word crisis it oiten misused. However, in the housing context the term is appropriate, as it highlights not just one but a whole series oi problems which urgently require action. Housing authorities are now iaced by a myriad of problems as a result oi years of neglect and because at the iailures ot the past.
For Shelter the most pressing problem is homelessness, and 1986 has been a very bad year for the homeless. During the late 1970s and early 1980s the number of homeless iamilies applying to local authorities for help hovered around the 16,000 mark. In 1986 the total reached 25,500 iamilies—the majority being iamilies with children. Nor does this tigure include single people, especially young people, who are etiectively debarred trom statutory help.
Yet the homeless statistics are only one pointerto a real housing shortage. Local authorities now have over 200,000 applicants on their housing waiting lists, up by more than one-third since 1981. Scotland also boasts the record at having tour times as many
people living in overcrowded
conditions as compared to England and
Wales. And we are now building iewer public sector houses than during any peace-time period since the 1920s. As well as building more houses we need to ensure that we are making the best possible use at the existing housing stock. In simple terms this means that we cannot allow over
There are also major problems with the condition of the housing stock. Expenditure on the repair and improvement oi council housing has been cut dramatically over the past decade and this failure to spend has led to major problems oi disrepair. perhaps most pressing is the problem of dampness in housing. We know that there are over hall a million houses in Scotland atiected by dampness. We also know, as a result of recent medical research, that severely damp houses can damage the health of children. There are over 120,000 children in Scotland whose health is seriously at risk because they live in damp houses, but still very little is being done.
The housing crisis is largely a crisis oi under-investment in bricks and mortar. Since 1979 the present Government has halved the level oi public expenditure in housing in Scotland. It is this continued and continuing lailure to spend money which has been the prime cause oi the housing crisis, and the longer this process goes on the more damage will be done. A pre-election mini-splurge is not the answer, but a wise and considered programme over a number of years with a real commitment to provide the necessary resources.
Next year, 1987, has been designated as the United Nations lnternaitonal Year of Shelter for the Homeless. I hope that it will be a year when the public iorces politicians of all political parties to stop pratiling and start producing real long term housing strategies iorthe Scottish people.
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PUTTING THE BOOT IN
My attention has been drawn to your recent supplement ‘Glasgow Style’ — may I be allowed to correct a factual error in it? Although I have omitted to include the creation of Billy Connolly‘s Banana Boots in my CV (not having regarded it as the acme of my career). I did. nevertheless. dream them up and design them. Originally titled ‘The Limbo‘ Wellington, they were designed by me for ‘The Great Northern Welly Boot Show’ (Clyde Fair. 1971) but were never actually made. It was some time later (c. 1974/5) that Mr Connolly told me that he was having the Banana Boots made by a ‘guy in Glasgow’ to my design. I discovered recently that the ‘guy' was Edmond Smith. I saw them onstage for the first time at the Glasgow Apollo for Mr Connolly’s one-man show around 1975 and thought them beautifully made - the one thing that diffferentiated them from my original conception was the addition ofa ‘Fyffes‘ label stuck to the leg. I‘m sure that Mr Smith as well as I would like any dubiety as to the origin of the Banana Boots cleared up. As I say, they were beautifully manufactured and perhaps in future the credit should read ‘Made by E. Smith to a design by J. Byrne‘. Yours faithfully
PS I have also set the record straight at the People‘s Palace where the boots are now housed. Any readers still in doubt should check the recently-aired BBC programme Open to Question in which Mr Connolly was quizzed as to the Bootees’ provenance.
SEXIST SLUR I am writing in response to Pierre Perrone’s article on the Eurythmics in the 20 November—ll December edition of The List. He concludes his interview with Annie Lennox with. ‘red bra sported by Annie fof'WouId l Lie To You‘. So much for those who thought she was making a feminist statement with material like Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves.’ This is yet another example of women being judged on the way they look, not by their actions. Annie Lennox, as a successful woman in the male-orientated rock world, has shown exactly what women can
Anne Lennox wore a traditionallly ‘masculine' suit. Now that she is wearing traditionally more ‘feminine’ clothes. is her presence in the rock world any less valid? What a singer wears does not affect the way the sing or what they sing about. So Mr Perrone's closing statement was not only sexist but completely irrelevant. Yours faithfully Eileen Laurie.
PANTO 5 LINE
What do you think oi Stanley Baxter's legs? ls Rikki Fulton too pretty to be an ugly sister? ls Sleeping Beauty really young, gitted and asleep? We want to know and we’re giving you the chance to tell us. PANTO-LINE is your unique chance to give us your views on seasonal theatre fare. The List, in conjunction with TALKABOUT is setting up phone lines to both receive and play your opinions, criticism and praise about pantomimes playing all over Central Scotland. PANTO-LINE will be open to receive your reviews all through the iestive season as well as playing selected entries daily on 0055 0066. Some oi the best will be published in the next issue at The List and there will be prizes oi books and TALKABOUT goodies ior those selected.
All you have to do is ring 248 0055 anytime and tell us what you think about any panto you have seen so far this year- but remember to keep it short! It you haven’t yet decided what you want to see there is our deiiniiive panto review section elsewhere in this issue and you can ring 0055 0066 to hear what other people think (it’s cheaper in the evening). The List is also oiiering grea‘t’prizes oi panto tickets (see pagem). Whatever one you choose, tell us about it on 248 0055 —we’re waiting to hear.
Choose shows in Glasgow (:1 or Edinburgh [3 (tick appropriate box).
80,000 houses in Scotland to lie empty. The majority of these empty houses are privately owned, however one-third are owned by public landlords and, in Edinburgh, the number of empty council houses has risen to over 4000 in the last couple at years.
achieve, ‘doing it for themselves’. Eurythmics first made an impact on the rock scene with ‘Sweet Dreams'. especially with the eye-catching imagery of the accompanying video. In this video
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4The List 12 Dec—8Jan