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The paradox in Glasgow's housing plan

THE comments of the Glasgow Housing Association spokesman reported in your news article, Tower block residents face uncertain future (April 1), are interesting since they expose one of the fundamental paradoxes in GHA's business plan.

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To be fair, GHA quite rightly identifies many of Glasgow's multi-storey flats as problematic. This much has been borne out time and time again by countless architects' reports that we at Govan Law Centre have commissioned on multis over the years, which persistently condemn this kind of accommodation as failing current building regulations - eg, not wind and watertight, damp, thermally inefficient, unventilated, unsanitary, lacking wholesome drinking water, etc). Perhaps these flats should never have been built, with design and construction better suited to the sunny climes of southern Europe than to windy, rainy Scotland. However, GHA knew, or should have known, what it was getting into when before the stock-transfer ballot and subsequent handover. Now it says it is committed to providing warm, dry, comfortable homes within 10 years. However, the fact of the matter is that people are already living in them right now, usually with no choice. The logical corollary of GHA's recent admission is that these tenants may have to continue living in cold, wet and uncomfortable conditions for up to 10 years. Should people's comfort and health take a distant second place to GHA's half-baked plan to makeover the city's skyline? What GHA fails to appreciate is that by adopting such an egregious manana strategy, it may not only perpetuate misery for hundreds of families, but in so doing it is almost certainly breaking the law. This exposes the GHA to the risk of very costly damages litigation in years to come, with tenants of damp housing being entitled to up to £ 1000 per year, and perhaps considerably more if their or their children's health suffers as a result. By not spending money on these homes now, GHA may have adopted a false economy while actually sitting on a ticking litigation time-bomb. Jon Kiddie, Govan Law Centre, Burleigh Street, Glasgow.

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