Report: Mapping economic potential in North East Glasgow

Ben Wray

40 derelict sites identified for ‘asset based community development’ regeneration strategy

AHEAD of the Scottish local elections next week, a new report by Common Weal has highlighted how the north-east of Glasgow could be transformed if derelict sites were used by the community to rebuild the local economy.

The report, ‘Mapping economic potential in North-East Glasgow’, is authored by Mhairi Love, an economics student and parliamentary assistant from Glasgow, and can be downloaded in full here.

The report was written with help from the local MP, Anne McLaughlin, who has been an advocate of urban land reform since elected in 2015.

The findings are based on an on-the-ground analysis of the area which identified 40 derelict sites that could be utilised under the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment Act for the good of the local community and economy.

The report advocates a new regeneration strategy for the poverty-stricken area of the city: asset based community development.

“Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is the theory of utilising a community’s skills and strengths (including those not traditionally included in conventional economic analysis) to empower and motivate the community to build a better, more prosperous environment.

“Communities are not problems that can be fixed within a specific time frame; and equally, lasting change is not something which can be ‘done’ to people.

“This means of achieving change advocates a pro-active, citizen-led approach, as opposed to citizens being passive recipients of policies which have led to gentrification, unaffordable housing and unsustainable models of employment such as low wage jobs in large retail outlets,” Love states.

The report cites examples of community projects that have utilised the Community Empowerment Act to good effect in the area, including the Barmulloch Community Development Company, which performed a community buy out of a disused church hall, and now holds regular welfare advice clinics, has community facilities, holds classes for women who have been victims of trauma, hosts community engagement processes, as well as fun family events like ‘C in the Park’, their annual community festival.

“Barmulloch Community Development Company have started from nothing and were led by the community in establishing itself as an institution providing services for everyone in the area to enjoy,” Love writes.

Other examples include Young People’s Futures in Possilpark that has built a job club and a community centre, and MsMissMrs: a social enterprise that got started in Balgrayhill Community Centre making ’empowerment pants’, superhero-style underwear, and reinvests the profits into running ‘self-empowerment’ based programmes for girls and women to encourage them to fulfill their potential.

Commenting on the report, Robin McAlpine, director of Common Weal, stated:

“Two problems that Glasgow faces are poor use of derelict land in parts of the city and also poor levels of economic development in parts of the city. The fact that these two problems tend to occur in the same places should be showing us the way forward, because if the city is more imaginative it could see that each of these problems helps to solve the other. Give people access to the land resources which help them to regenerate their communities. Surely that just makes common sense?”

Anne McLaughlin, SNP MP for Glasgow North East who is backing the proposals, said:

“My constituency is awash with positive assets based on this model. It makes sense, the more deprived an area is, the more creativity and strength people require simply to survive and the more they need to come together as communities to support each other. The Scottish Government has put in place the legislation and the funding for communities to take control of neglected land and buildings. My team offer practical help for example by training them to access funding. And I am saying to the people of North East Glasgow, have confidence in yourselves, you ARE the assets here and it’s about time you were recognised.”