November 19, 2014
Arms-length or different planet
The opacity and lack of accountability of ALEOs (Arms-Length External Organisations) that so many councils use to deliver public services, has long been a source of concern for those who fear the loss of democratic control over our public asset base. One wonders whether the level of obstruction that community group, Love Milton, have had to endure recently from Glasgow’s City Property would be the same if this ALEO’s behaviour was more open to public scrutiny.
For the last 5 years Love Milton have been working hard to achieve their dream of building a new community centre in Milton in the North of Glasgow as a community self-build project. Using the building process to actually train, upskill and qualify local residents in sustainable building techniques giving them the skills, confidence and access to better employability. Love Milton have already trained over 135 people through smaller building projects in the area and have everything lined up for their first big community build. The land they have identified for the project is derelict and owned by the people of Glasgow. However, ownership of the land is where the problem lies.
City Property have refused to negotiate with the community, saying that even if the group bought the land (which was overvalued anyway), they weren’t capable of building or managing a centre.
So the Love Milton found another site. Glasgow Housing Association offered the piece of land in question for £5. But in order to gain access to the site, Love Milton need to cross a strip of land owned by City Property. Again City Property proved to be obstructive, proposing a rent of £500 per month. The local school even tried to donate another piece of land to allow access by declaring it surplus to requirements. City Property then moved to take control of the newly declared surplus land and have refused to transfer it. And so it goes on. An endless saga of top down municipalism obstructing a community’s aspirations.
You can sign a petition to support the community here