MSP praises work of housing co-op
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