Student documentary highlights escalating tenants’ row on Glasgow High Street


City Properties under fire in maintenance dispute

THE LONG-RUNNING battle between tenants around Glasgow's historic High Street and the council's property arm City Properties has been the focus of a short documentary.

Tenants in the historic High Street area of Glasgow city centre have again criticised Glasgow City Council's arms-length property firm City Property (Glasgow) LLP for allegedly 'clearing out' independent businesses. 

Samantha Cooper, who runs Ladywell Crystals and Healing on High Street, says she has been in a battle with City Property for five years after discovering an open sewer underneath the shop, and subsequently extensive damp and dry rot problems, which she says the company refused to deal with. She alleges that the historic area is suffering a decline as a result of the actions of City Property, which owns much of the former council property.

Other tenants who say they are struggling maintenance bills or rent increases include Dan Taylor, who runs a cafe on the street. Cooper and others have formed the Glasgow High Street Merchant's Association, and film student Josh Laird has now highlighted the row in a short documentary film.

Laird, 20, studies at City of Glasgow College, and said he hoped the documentary would "push these problems into public view". 

"Many people are completely unaware of what is happening on High Street", Laird continued. "The main goal of the documentary is to gather support to protect the street, its history and the businesses on it." 

Cooper says the shops on the historic street – Glasgow's oldest – have suffered for years at the lack of maintenance and upkeep on the part of landlords City Property. She told CommonSpace: "If anybody walks up High Street they can see how delapidated the buildings are – bald chimneys, leaking roofs."

CommonSpace spoke to Green councillor Nina Baker, whose Anderston/City ward includes the High Street. Baker said that it is "not in the interests of City Property to boot people out – they are making attempts to keep people in business". 

Baker acknowledged that the repair work needed for the historic area could well be very extensive, but so far "has not been timetabled. There's proably some pretty brutal repair work needing done – maybe the whole side of the street. But some of the premises definitely experience the damp and smells worse than others." 

Last October CommonSpace followed the successful Blue Chair Community Cafe campaign on High Street, which prevented a business eviction after fundraising efforts. 

City Property did not respond to a request for comment. 

Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.