Activists besiege city councils demanding housing reforms and an end to homelessness

GCC at the centre of national controversy on homelessness rise

ACTIVISTS have descended on two of Scotland’s largest local authorities demanding changes to deal with the country’s housing and homelessness crises.

Campaigners took action at the opening sessions of the new council administrations at Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Activists protesting the potential eviction of 11 families in North Edinburgh occupied part of the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) buildings, while campaigners calling for new measures to prevent the deaths of homeless people lobbied councillors at Glasgow City council (GCC).

The protests were timed to coincide with the first meeting of the new councils since the local elections on 4 May. CEC has no overall control with the largest party group being the SNP with 19 seats just ahead of the Scottish Tories with 18. Today GCC voted to organise a proportional executive, with the largest grouping being the SNP, followed by Labour.

One of the GCC campaigners, Craig Paterson, told CommonSpace: “We are at the opening session of Glasgow city council to raise awareness of the homelessness epidemic, and the multiple deaths we’ve seen.”

He said that activists were asking councillors of all parties to take new measures to prevent further homeless deaths.

The occupation at City of Edinburgh Council buildings

“Ring-fence the funding we have at the moment, and to find buildings and open them up for people to use. This isn’t something that will solve the whole problem of homelessness, but it will be a dry, warm, sheltered, safe place for people sleeping rough in the city,” he said.

“We also want councillors to commit to more funding for homeless peoples services.”

Glasgow is the national centre of a worsening homelessness crisis in Scotland.

A recent investigation by the Sunday Herald found that, on average, one homeless person per week dies on the streets in Scotland.

Pauline Bowie from the group Making It Work, which is campaigning against the Edinburgh evictions, told CommonSpace that their efforts to improve employability in the city were hampered by housing difficulties.

“People can’t get back into work unless they have somewhere to stay,” she said.

Activists outside Glasgow City Chambers as the new council sat for the first time

Figures released in February showed that evictions in Scotland had risen by 24 per cent in the past two years. Shelter Scotland blamed Tory changes to welfare including the benefits cap, which is thought to make women with dependent children especially vulnerable.

Campaigners from groups including Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty and Living Rent were calling on CEC to do what it could to alleviate the conditions of people affected by the benefits cap and improve access to housing.

Pictures Facebook

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

CommonSpace journalism is completely free from the influence of advertisers and is only possible with your continued support. Please contribute a monthly amount towards our costs. Build the Scotland you want to live in - support our new media.