Wyndford Towers demolition: The story so far as Residents Union accuse housing association of ‘targeted harassment’

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Here’s our quick recap of the Wyndford demolition story so far as the latest allegation launched today

As the clock continues to count down on the demolition of the Wyndford Towers - activists and the local tenants union clash with the social landlord behind the plans as they cling on to the four high flat blocks that have been a fixture of the Glasgow skyline for the last 60 years.

Glasgow’s largest housing association is behind the scheme to demolish the Wyndford Towers - which has been vehemently opposed by Wyndford Residents Union since the proposal was launched in 2021.

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The proposed demolition would see the towers brought down (which amount to around 600 social housing flats) and £73m spent building 300 new homes in the area.

The situation has been ongoing for the last year with a storied, complex, and oftentimes heated dialogue between both Wheatley Homes and Wyndford Resident’s Union played out both in the press and in private.

Wheatley Homes argue that the demolition of the tower blocks are ‘well overdue’ and that they plan on bringing ‘much-needed regeneration’ to the area - as well as that the ‘vast majority’ of tenant’s backed their demolition plans. Wyndford Residents Union argue that the blocks need to stay up, and that retrofitting is the ‘greener’ option - a few architects have came out in support of saving the towers.

Members of the Wyndford Resident’s Union - who claim they are facing harassment from Wheatley HomesMembers of the Wyndford Resident’s Union - who claim they are facing harassment from Wheatley Homes
Members of the Wyndford Resident’s Union - who claim they are facing harassment from Wheatley Homes | Wyndford Residents Union

You can read more about the architect’s arguments from this piece by the founding director of the firm Fraser/Livingstone in the Architect’s Journal.

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At time of writing (February 22, 2023), a small percentage of tenant’s still occupy homes in the four tower blocks - less than 10 per cent of previous residents according to Wheatley Homes.

Amidst the demolition drama, Wyndford Residents Union secured one of the first energy pricing freezes in the UK amidst the ongoing energy cost crisis in September last year - you can read more in GlasgowWorld’s report here.

Wyndford Residents Union protest energy price increases outside the ScottishPower offices in Glasgow - led by speaker and union member Stephanie MartinWyndford Residents Union protest energy price increases outside the ScottishPower offices in Glasgow - led by speaker and union member Stephanie Martin
Wyndford Residents Union protest energy price increases outside the ScottishPower offices in Glasgow - led by speaker and union member Stephanie Martin | Wyndford Residents Union

The union attempted to have the tower blocks protected as listed buildings, although this proposal was rejected by Historic Environment Scotland.

Now members of the Residents Union claim that the housing association have started a ‘harassment campaign’ against them, in a media release published today, a spokesperson for Wyndford Resident’s Union said:“Yesterday we became aware of vexatious complaints to social work about our members, after one of our members was phoned by a social worker to ask if the WRU was manipulating him into opposing the demolition of the high flats.

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“We believe this vexatious referral to have come from the GHA, but our member is not alone in being targeted.”

Just last month activists from the Young Communist League occupied the Wyndford high flats to protest the demolition of the towers and show their support to the Wyndford Resident’s Union - you can find out more from this article by the BBC’s Local Democracy Service.

Activists set off flares and unfurled a banner from the Wyndford tower that read: ‘Homes for People Not for Profits. Save the High Flats’Activists set off flares and unfurled a banner from the Wyndford tower that read: ‘Homes for People Not for Profits. Save the High Flats’
Activists set off flares and unfurled a banner from the Wyndford tower that read: ‘Homes for People Not for Profits. Save the High Flats’ | Contributed

The day after the occuplation police said that three women and three men were arrested and charged in connection with alleged vandalism at the Wyndford tower block. On the topic of police, the Wyndford Residents Union said in their release:“Numerous residents have been stopped and randomly searched by plain clothes police asking for details about our campaign. We will not however take this abuse of the GHA’s institutional and financial power without a response.

“We are therefore calling on our trade union sisters and brothers to join with us in condemning the targeted harassment of our members. We will be referring the matter to the Glasgow Trade Union Council, and will be seeking direct support from fellow unions within housing and the GHA to curtail these practices.”

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The Wyndford Resident’s Union plan to collect evidence of Wheatley Home’s alleged misdoings and ‘obnoxious behaviour’ towards tenant’s in the Wyndford tower blocks - in preparation for an ‘accountability summit’ the union plans to hold for Glasgow City Council leaders to address the allegations of harassment.

Just two weeks ago on February 10, a letter from Wheatley Homes tenant chair, Bernadette Hewitt, was published in full to ‘set the record straight’ on the Glasgow Times letters page. It read:“With respect, your [Glasgow Times] coverage to date has been heavily weighted to reflect the views of a small group of activists and a never-ending flow of myths and half-truths.

“One thing’s certain: these people don’t represent the 94% of tenants who’ve successfully and happily moved out of the tower blocks into much more suitable, attractive and quality homes and communities of their choice.”

Height: 74 metres (243 ft) Year constructed: 1964Height: 74 metres (243 ft) Year constructed: 1964
Height: 74 metres (243 ft) Year constructed: 1964

Ms Hewitt said the tower blocks are “unpopular and unsustainable” and they cannot be retrofitted, as the campaigners argue. A structural engineers report for Wheatley Homes said that ‘restructuring these blocks is not feasible’ and ‘cutting through the thick concrete walls would compromise the structural integrity and stability of the building’.

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She went to say the protesters are ‘ignoring the facts for their own interests’. The chair concluded:”These dated, no longer acceptable units will be replaced by 300 affordable homes, 255 of which will be for social rent. The houses and flats will be attractive, fuel-efficient and of the highest quality, offering the same number, if not more bedrooms.”

You can read more from the Tenant Chair of Wheatley Home’s statement in the Glasgow Times.

You can also read the full media release from the Wyndford Residents Union on their Facebook page.

More on the situation to come in the following weeks - Wyndford Resident’s Association will march in an event organised by the Scottish Tenants Organisation on Saturday February 25. Stay tuned to GlasgowWorld for more

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