THE bicycle stands outside are all full. A visitor will be tripping over listed buildings on their way. If you can avoid the temptation of an independent queer bookshop, a record store, half a dozen coffee shops, delis, cafes and innovative restaurants then welcome - you've joined me in a hipster pub.

I've ordered a Hendricks gin with tonic but there's a wait as the barman runs down to the local organic market to buy a fresh cucumber to put in it.

Are we in Glasgow's Finnieston, named the hippest place in Britain? No, we're not even in the city's chichi west end. The barman plops an unctuous cucumber chunk into the fizzing glass as we're joined by young professionals, community activists and arty-looking types with turned-up jeans and no socks. There is n'duja on the menu and fancy gratins. We are in Govanhill.

Govanhill. An area of terrible repute, swirling rumours and two competing realities.

One reality is that millions of pounds of targeted investment has been poured into the area in the past 10 years thanks in large part to dedicated community activists who have generated enough heat and light that politicians were forced into action.

Hundreds of flats have been taken into the control of housing associations and work is currently underway to bring them to a tolerable standard. In other cases, professional couples have spotted bargains at auction and are renovating former slum properties into luxury homes. Having so many properties in the ownership of housing associations is some protection from wholesale gentrification and should, hopefully, keep the area's mix of working class community and burgeoning new middle class.

Slum landlords are being removed from the area. Police Scotland has an enhanced strategy for Govanhill and crime rates are falling. Cleansing services are more intensive here than anywhere else in the city.

There are dozens upon dozens of community projects catering for every possible interest. There is a Big Noise orchestra working in primary and secondary schools.

The Govanhill Baths was closed by Glasgow City Council in 2001 but local people refused to accept the closure and a battle was begun. It was a neat demonstration of how passionate and motivated the community is. A trust took the Edwardian bathhouse over and it has now closed for renovation. When it opens in 2020 it will be an extraordinary boost to the area.

Inroads are being made with the Roma population - the largest in the UK - with successes at local schools and in community projects.

The South City Way, a cycle route that runs through Govanhill from Queen's Park to the Merchant City, is currently under construction. This is part of a wider urban upwards change.

Affordable rents attract small businesses to the area, including local manufacturers. The bar of our hipster pub was made round the corner from an innovative new material based on Japanese lacquerware called Mirrl.

The food scene is booming, you are spoilt for choice.

But if one is swatting at a cockroach as it scuttles across one's kitchen worktop, one really has no hoots to give about an organic supermarket opening up on Victoria Road, even if it does sell fresh milk by the bottle and allows you to crush your own pistachio butter.

The other reality is of those in flats where anti-social behaviour is a blight on normal life. Where infestations of mice, rats and cockroaches must be dealt with. Where multi-culturalism does not make the area vibrant but makes it seem unsafe, unclean and out of control.

During the indy ref movement a trend grew up whereby anyone who queried whether or not the country should break away from the union was asked the question, "Why do you hate Scotland?" This became a sort of meme, jokingly applied to anything and everything.

"I'm not so keen on haggis." Why do you hate Scotland?

"We're spending the summer on Anglesey." WHY DO YOU HATE SCOTLAND?

In Govanhill, a version of this prevails but in reverse. Any positivity about the area is met with deep suspicion, fury even. Those who mention the positive change in the area are said to wear rose-tinted glasses - a gross insult. As soon as you're accused of wearing rose-tinted glasses, you're persona non grata.

Any positive news story I write about Govanhill inevitably leads to someone commenting that I must never have been there. When I say I live there the goalposts move and I'm told I must never have walked along the notorious Allison Street. When I reply that I walk along Allison Street daily - and at night - I'm told I must be an SNP shill.

There's an another element to the issue. Nicola Sturgeon is the MSP for the area and there is a deep sense, in some quarters, that she has "abandoned" Govanhill, though pinning people down to exactly what they mean by "abandoned" is tricky. 

There is a deep distrust of the Roma community. When there were fewer ducks than usual on the pond in Queen's Park it went round that the Roma had stolen and eaten them.

Media outlets were able to print stories last year that said Roma parents are selling their children on the streets for sex. Not claimed, said.

At my volunteer job a few weeks ago the subject of the Roma came up and a fellow volunteer told me, with a note of authority, that the children are sold from corner shops. "And you know who owns the corner shops," she added. Given the logistics of squeezing weans into 3kg sweet jars - for how else would the local Asian grocer display his wares? - I'm not convinced this is true.

From where does my colleague get her confidence? Her hairdresser told her. A year-long police investigation has recently concluded showing no evidence of this but local people still believe it to be true.

There is real social division and exclusion in the area. Racist comments are graffitied on phone boxes. Far-right groups follow the narrative closely, looking for an opportunity to use racial divisions in the area as an example that multi-culturalism doesn't work.

You have one group of people who feel patronised and belittled and another group who feel frustrated and stymied.

Members of the former group say they see literally nothing being done to improve Govanhill, despite the evidence to the contrary. They want zero crime but we live in the world, not in a utopia. There will always be crime. Falling crime rates are attributed to the police massaging the figures because they have lost control. 

A comment on the review of this pub we're sitting in claims a visitor was put off by the children begging outside. I speak to several regular customers who say they have not once seen such a thing. Another review complains that the pub did not sell Smirnoff and so they won't be back.

It's easy to scoff at that but what you are really scoffing at is a fear of change, a fear of people's needs being ignored. Govanhill is a microcosm of our wider political landscape.

Rumour and conspiracy theory abound because of a feeling of loss of control and the threat of migration. This is the kind of climate where a right-wing elite could slap a solution on the side of a bus and win votes.

Govanhill is an exciting place to be. The problem with the area is not the bed bugs or the overcrowding - it's that not everyone feels this sense of potential.
Communities need to feel empowered and genuinely listened to otherwise they will lean towards populist politicians who make disingenuous, meaningless promises.