Monday, 2 August 2010
Campaigners, supported by Govanhill Law Centre, have been pleading for years for help to address the area’s complicated problems. Now, backed by local councillors, MSPs and Govanhill Housing Association (GHHA), locals have been given £1.8m to start tidying the area.
Part of that plan includes the creation of an enforcement squad – made up of council staff, police and fire officers – with an "armoury" of powers to crack down on slum landlords. The team will have an annual budget of £300,000 with funding guaranteed for two years. And lawyers from Govanhill Law Centre, led by Lorraine Barrie, will also be closely involved. Operating from a base in Coplaw Street, it will be the first time all the agencies have been brought together.
Lorraine said: "This new strategy is fantastic. What will really help is if we get the public involved and work on information they give us so we can target problem areas." The new hit squad will track down unregistered landlords and enforce environmental health laws. Currently, any landlord running a house of multiple occupation without a licence can be fined up to £5,000. As part of the new measures, the maximum fine will next year rise to £20,000.
The Housing Bill currently going through Parliament is intended to strengthen powers for councils to ensure owners look after their property. The Government will review the current landlord registration system later this year, with the aim of helping councils ensure all private landlords sign up. Lorraine added: "The new measures will give us a powerful armoury and help us take the power back from people who are breaking the law."
The full story from the Evening Times (which is running a series of reports from Govanhill all of this week) is available online here.