MSP praises work of hous­ing co-op

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Staff Re­porter

A Cam­bus­lang hous­ing co­op­er­a­tive has once again been held up as an ex­am­ple of how the model can work across Scot­land by the man who wants to be the next deputy leader of Scot­tish Labour.

Richard Baker MSP paid a visit to West Whit­law­burn Hous­ing Coop last week, meet­ing with staff and com­mit­tee mem­bers who talked him through the 25-year history of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The can­di­date, who was joined by James Kelly MSP, laid out his na­tional pol­icy for hous­ing, call­ing on his own party to be more am­bi­tious.

A re­port by the Co­op­er­a­tive De­vel­op­ment so­ci­ety stated that co­op­er­a­tive mod­els have been “largely for­got­ten by UK hous­ing pol­icy mak­ers.”

It found that hous­ing co-ops are hugely ben­e­fi­cial for com­mu­ni­ties. On av­er­age, 10 per cent of Euro­peans live in co­op­er­a­tive hous­ing, the fig­ure stands at just 0.6 per cent in the UK.

Mr Baker held WWHC as a model that could be repli­cated else­where in the coun­try.

He said: “I was inspired by West Whit­law­burn. Cru­cially, it’s more than just a hous­ing provider: it was clear to me that the com­mu­nity cen­tre is a so­cial hub for res­i­dents, the concierges have a close re­la­tion­ship with the ten­ants who shape their com­mu­nity through an ac­tive com­mit­tee.

“Sadly, this is not the pic­ture na­tion­ally. It is un­ac­cept­able that over 150,000 peo­ple are on so­cial hous­ing wait­ing lists in 2015 Scot­land - it’s Labour who will be the party tak­ing build­ing af­ford­able homes se­ri­ously in next year’s elec­tion.”

WWHC di­rec­tor, Paul Far­rell, was sat­is­fied the MSP had seen the po­ten­tial of hous­ing co-ops.

He said: “We were re­ally pleased to welcome James and Richard who both demon­strated a firm grasp of the very dif­fi­cult is­sues fac­ing so­cial hous­ing cur­rently, and they were de­lighted to see for them­selves the tremen­dous suc­cesses of WWHC. It is tremen­dously en­cour­ag­ing to hear both James and Richard evan­ge­lis­ing the hous­ing co-op­er­a­tive model.

“For too long suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments and pol­icy mak­ers have failed to pro­mote hous­ing co­op­er­a­tives. The suc­cesses of WWHC proves the co-op model is very much worth sup­port­ing and pro­mot­ing.”

Mr Kelly, who is back­ing Mr Baker’s bid for the deputy lead­er­ship, added: “It was great to welcome Richard to Cam­bus­lang. West Whit­law­burn is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of the qual­ity of hous­ing and strength of com­mu­nity which we should as­pire to have across Scot­land.

“Scot­tish Labour will be stand­ing on a plat­form of am­bi­tious and bold poli­cies in next year’s elec­tion, not least on hous­ing. Scot­land has a hous­ing cri­sis right now. I’ve cam­paigned be­fore for more to be done to build af­ford­able homes and stop ex­ploita­tive rent rises.”

Ex­am­ple Richard Baker MSP (top row, sec­ond right) was im­pressed with what he saw on his visit to the west Whit­law­burn Hous­ing Co-op

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