If you think it’s over, Glasgow Labour City Council – think again …
MORIDURA BLOG LINKS
If you think it’s over, Glasgow Labour City Council – think again …
MORIDURA BLOG LINKS
The election has been decisively won - the people of Scotland have spoken, dismissing the Tories and the LibDems as irrelevant to their lives, and dealing what I hope is a death blow to the long dominance of the Labour Party in Scotland.
Scottish Labour is in utter disarray, and is frantically attempting to place the blame for the end of their hegemony on any scapegoats they can find, and sedulously avoiding the real reasons for the decline in their fortunes that began with the SNP’s election victory in 2007. They are a party in denial, and this denial is being consolidated by their defenders in the media, some openly partisan and other trying to pretend that they are objective political commentators engaged in a dispassionate analysis of what went wrong, and how the party may reinvent itself and present a new face to the electorate.
At the heart of Scottish Labour’s problem is the city of Glasgow and Glasgow City Council, a Labour fiefdom for decades that encapsulates all that is rotten about Labour at most fundamental level of government - self-serving machine politics that have been inimical to well-being of the people of Glasgow for two generations.
And now a spectre looms, that of next years local elections, when they face the prospect of losing control of Glasgow and much of their traditional heartland besides.
There are many reasons why Scottish Labour supporters at last realised just what they have been voting for all these years, and shifted allegiance dramatically to the SNP, but one example epitomises the uncaring cynicism with which they treated their loyal supporters - the brutal and unfeeling clearance of the Dalmarnock area of Glasgow for private development and for the Commonwealth Games.
The Jaconelli Case, appalling enough in itself, was simply the most visible example of what was done to many families and small businesses in this travesty of justice. Margaret and Jack Jaconelli have repeatedly stated this fact to anyone who would listen - that they were not alone in this injustice, but simply one family who had been thrown into the media spotlight by the juggernaut of municipal and legal brutality rolling over them. Not one of them to my knowledge has received a penny in compensation or any interim payment. For most, this has been going on for eight years or more.
If anyone who followed the case has forgotten just how the City of Glasgow and the Glasgow Labour Party brutalised its own people, click the link below and watch the Scottish Sun video from inside 10 Ardenlea Street on that awful morning. For anyone unaware of the final denouement of the story, this is a must-view.
(I have appended some of video clips and blog comments at the end of today’s piece.)
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN ENTRENCHED REGIME LOOKS LIKE LOSING POLITICAL POWER?
Let’s look away from Glasgow for a moment, and consider what happens when any political machine loses power at the local level anywhere in the United Kingdom, indeed in any city in the democratic world.
I will use the term used by Private Eye, that indispensable publication that covers the ground that mainstream media are either too lazy, too complacent or too scared to address - rotten boroughs. Private Eye regularly publishes the sordid details of such rotten boroughs across the UK, where blatant corruption, the self-interest and the personal profit of councillors reign supreme over any concern for the people who have the misfortune to be dependent on them.
The mechanics of such corruption of local democracy across the UK are always the same - the award of contracts in disregard of best practice, failure to declare interest by councillors, nepotism, insider knowledge of land development, so-called consultancy and training contracts, lucrative sinecures for councillors on quasi-independent bodies, revolving door appointments to organisations that have benefited from council largesse. The necessary links with external organisations created by the giant budgets controlled by councils creates a potential for influence that should work for the good of the people, but all to often operates against their interests.
But like all political power, when the continuity of the hegemony is threatened, those external organisations whose relationship with the political power brokers has been less than transparent begin to get jittery, and a process of disengagement begins that is deeply worrying to the politicians involved.
And within the central structure there are three groups - honest employees and politicians, dishonest employees and politicians who are up to their necks in the corrupt practices, and a crucial third group, those who are all too aware of what has been going on, have not participated in, or profited by it, but who have remained silent rather than blow the whistle.
It is this group who begin to break their silence when the power structure begins to look shaky, anxious not to be caught up in a scandal that they have never profited from. Once those first cracks appear, the honest group, often comprising senior professionals, becomes uneasily aware of what has been going on under their noses, and begins to probe the weakest parts of the edifice of corruption.
Soon thereafter, panic sets in among the truly corrupt. Having no allegiance to any person or principle other than that of expedient self-interest, they begin to try to distance themselves from what may be coming their way. At that point, the dam begins to burst- auditing bodies, professional organisations, the police, national government and the media acquire a sudden interest.
SUMMARY and APPENDICES
I make the above points as general observations about corrupt organisations. Glasgow City Council may be entirely free of corruption, especially since the end of the Purcell era, which may itself just have been the personal failings and the personal tragedy of one man. If this is so, then in the Dalmarnock case, they have been simply deeply misguided in the way they pursued otherwise laudable objectives in relation to the regeneration of the East End of Glasgow and the huge opportunity presented by the Commonwealth Games, displaying professional callousness and a total lack of empathy towards an entire community of ordinary working people, and a highly selective view of the law as it relates to compulsory purchase and the acquisition of land for development purposes.
SOME PREVIOUS BLOGS AND YouTube CLIPS ON GLASGOW AND DALMARNOCK
Reprinted from Facebook -
Demanding a replacement for soon to close Accord centre
For over 20 years the Accord Centre has been a well loved day centre for people with learning disabilities in the East End of Glasgow. Due to the Commonwealth Games the Accord Centre, situated in Dalmarnock, is to make way for a new road to the Games site.
We are told that due to the 'economic climate' there will be no new day centre and instead we are being offered a hired room in a yet unspecified community centre.
"The Accord centre means everything to me, all my friends are there, we get a good laugh there...I don't want to be in a community centre...I don't know who will be coming in or out...I want a safe environment" ..Cheryl McArthur, service userWe feel very strongly that this is completely unacceptable, and demand that, from the millions being invested into these Games, a new day centre is the minimum that the people of Dalmarnock and the East End deserve from these Games, otherwise what is the benefit of this big international spectacle to the people of Glasgow?
Please help us spread the word and raise awareness of this fight which may seem David & Goliath, but is one which we the Accord service users, parents, carers, determined to fight and win as common decency and justice are on our side.
Glad to be of some little help, Accord Campaign!
One factoid stands out from all the others in the distortions, spin and outright lies that have characterised the anti-Jaconelli media coverage for most of the life of this sad case - the alleged £360,000 ‘demand’ for the Ardenlea Street flat.
I have explained this on numberless occasions, as have the Jaconelli’s and their lawyer, but it keeps rising to the surface, like a turd in a pond, because it serves the purpose of Glasgow City Council and those who post anonymously on their behalf.
So let me say this as clearly as I can, in the almost certainly vain hope that it will penetrate the minds of those shallow, hostile posters who cannot see beyond it - Margaret Jaconelli never asked for £360,000, never authorised such a claim, and has made it abundantly clear that it did not represent her expectations of compensation for the loss of her home.
What happened was that an illustrative figure was used to show the gross disparity between what she had been offered and the settlement made with one developer in relation to his investment. The Jaconellis invested £30k in her home, a buy-back in 1998 based on a 1990 valuation, and a developer invested £45k .
The developer accepted £5.5 million pounds - yes, million pounds - and proportionate to investment, this represented £3.5 million, and for example if the Jaconellis had got even a tenth or so of this, a figure of around £350,000 was theoretically relevant. No one for a moment intended to make such a claim, but the Sun ran a headline £3.5m Gran. Some confusion existed after this calculation was mentioned to Glasgow City Council, a confusion that they and their compliant media partners have exploited ever since.
Had they ever negotiated with Margaret Jaconelli - as they did with the developers - the true gap between the parties could easily have been identified.
Had mediation (ADR) been accepted by GCC, the realistic gap to be bridged would quickly have been brought out by the mediator. But Glasgow City Council were now determined to bludgeon the Jaconellis into submission by legal processes where there was, to quote Mike Dailly’s legal term “a gross inequality of arms”, i.e. GCC were represented by expensive and heavyweight lawyers and a QC, including during a critical court appearance where Margaret was unrepresented.
They rejected Margaret’s formal written request for mediation: they rejected two offers of mediation by the Scottish Government. Finally they tried to bully Margaret at the 11th hour by an offer of mediation only if she first gave up her flat, an ultimatum which she rejected.
The anonymous posters who for reasons best known to themselves have aligned with GCC against the Jaconellis on this dispute keep asking What about all the others?
The answer to that is that, far from going meekly and amicably, others have been equally badly treated, including tenants, house owners and the owners of small businesses. Many have understandably given up the unequal battle, but others have not. Most of them were among those forcibly cleared from the street by heavy-handed policing in the dawn raid on Ardenlea Street, some sleeping in their cars overnight in the hope of offering some kind of moral support to the woman who has become their champion.
So to those posters such as ‘observer’, who keeps coming back with his or her bad song and tired factoids, I have this to say -
If you are too numerically challenged to understand the fact of this case as set out by me and others, or too verbally challenged to read and understand a complex argument, or too devoid of a social conscience or common humanity to recognise where the right lies, then please don’t take up my time with the same same tired old rubbish.
An attempt to say something in verse, especially when it carries a political and social message, is challenging even for those with infinitely more talent and skill than I can muster. And the spectre of McGonagall hovers beside me as I struggle …
But sometimes, only verse will serve the emotions.
(I shrink from calling it a poem but hope that it is more than doggerel)
So here goes -
The spirit of Ardenlea Street
Mungo came to a dear, green place
where Fergus chose to die
He built a church near a sylvan stream
where Fergus chose to lie
The Molendinar ran beneath
the hard grey rock above
And a great cathedral - stone by stone -
was built by men, with love
And from this place, a city grew
from the grove of the Lady Well
Some say that Wallace was betrayed
by men in this leafy dell
A child of the East, I knew this place
I played in light and dark
in the waters foul that the stream became
below the old fir park
The City now - a giant place
A second war has come
with death and devastation, yet
a spark of hope for some
In the East end of the City
In tenements dark and grey
lived a great, resilient people
And they live there to this day
But the wealth and power shifted
to the centre, west and south
and the great betrayal started
from the People's Party's mouth
So these ordinary people
must be broken on the wheel
And the things that they most value
must be ground beneath the heel
Of politicians venal
and the men that fund their greed
And while the riches flow to some
The Glesca people bleed
Among this devastation
A woman held her ground
She tried to fight for all she loved
in the wasteland all around
The brutal heart of power
to its eternal shame
has used the force that it commands
to play its dirty game
The men who fund their party
are on the inside track
and they become obscenely rich because
the poor are on the rack
And all the rich Glaswegians
believe the Council's claims
They're dazzled by the PR spin
and the promise of great Games
But back in Ardenlea Street
the doors are battered in
Unequal force has forced them out
The Party has to win
Now, for the Jaconellis,
a life begins anew
They're out, but not defeated
Although a great wind blew
And there are those among us
Who'll never let this rest
A great injustice has been done
and now begins a quest ...
To find the truth for Glasgow
and bring a cleansing rain
Then Mungo's spirit may return
to Glaschu once again
I commend these excerpts from MacDiarmid’s poem to Labour-controlled Glasgow City Council, to the Glasgow Labour Party, to Michael Kelly (for his facile Scotsman article today) and to all those shallow, complacent journalists who could not find the facts other than the ones fed to them by Glasgow City Council’s PR handouts, and who would not have recognised a true human interest story - and tragedy in the making - if it had reared up and bit them.
John Maclean would have recoiled in utter disbelief and revulsion from the thing the Labour Party has become in the country of its birth, Scotland, and notoriously, in the City of Glasgow.
And I pay tribute to those who did recognise the truth and the facts, and who offered objective reporting to the Jaconellis, and their wholehearted support.
(I am indebted to my friend Gordon Cowell, a true Scot living in Spain, for immediately seeing the relevance of the poem and telling me about it. Thanks Gordon!)
JOHN MACLEAN (1879-1923)
All the buildings in Glasgow are grey
With cruelty and meanness of spirit,
But once in a while one greyer than the rest
A song shall merit
Since a miracle of true courage is seen
For a moment its walls between.
Look at it, you fools, with unseeing eyes
And deny it with lying lips!
And ‘justice’ may well do its filthy work
Behind walls as filthy as these
And congratulate itself blindly and never know
The prisoner takes the light with him as he goes below.
Stand close, stand close, and block out the light
As long as you can, you ministers and lawyers,
the light of truth in on the base pretence
Of Justice that sentenced him behind these grey walls.
All law is the contemptible fraud he declared it.
Like a lightning-bolt at last the workers’ wrath falls
On all such castles of cowards whether they be
Uniformed in ermine, or blue, or khaki.
Royal honours for murderers and fools! The ‘fount of honour’
Is poisoned and spreads its corruption all through,
But Scotland will think yet of the broken body
And unbreakable spirit …
Hugh MacDiarmid (1934)
Margaret Jaconelli has announced her candidacy as an independent for the Scottish Parliament today. Her campaign HQ will be 10 Ardenlea Street Dalmarnock, her threatened home of 35 years, under siege by Labour-controlled Glasgow City Council.
Last Saturday, Margaret confronted Glasgow City Council Labour leader, Gordon Matheson outside the Labour Party Conference. Her persecutor-in-chief hastily ran away, refusing to talk when he realised who he had by the hand.
Undeterred, Margaret went on to confront Ed Miliband, who did listen, took her phone number and promised to act. (reported in the Sunday Post with picture.)
Margaret exhibits fully the qualities and hopes that Jack McConnell, former Scottish First Minister, expressed in his farewell speech at Holyrood today -
“ … will walk a little taller, cringe a little less and have ideas above their station.”
The Herald report today by Helen McArdle was much more balanced, fair and accurate - and human - than most of the Herald’s previous coverage has been. Some misconceptions have been corrected - the GCC lie on the offer of accommodation, for instance. (They have never offered permanent rented accommodation to Margaret, and in any case such an offer was irrelevant to a house owner seeking financial compensation for having her house taken away from her.)
But Helen McArdle accepted at face value GCC’s deliberate misrepresentation, with partial information, of the facts of the mediation offer.
This ready acceptance of one side of an argument from the powerful without checking the other side from the vulnerable is dangerous, especially when the facts are readily available, and have already been reported by other news media.
The facts, Helen, are these -
1. Glasgow City Council rejected a formal written request by Margaret Jaconelli for mediation, a fact stated by her lawyer subsequently at a court hearing.
2. On Thursday evening, a representative of the Scottish Government made an offer to GCC to supply a mediator in the dispute. GCC rejected this offer out of hand.
3. On Friday, faced with a glare of publicity and media interest in the Jaconellis, and the widely publicised news of the Scottish Government offer, GCC suddenly gave the Jaconellis an time-limited ultimatum - vacate the property immediately and we will accept mediation, a bullying tactic that this vulnerable family, playing the only card they have in the face of the might of Glasgow City Council, the Labour Party, the law and law enforcement agencies, refused.
These are the facts. But perhaps it was too much to expect the Herald to report that an SNP Government had offered to help resolve this needless and damaging dispute, which is casting a dark stain over the Commonwealth Games, especially when the Labour-controlled GCC are rolling like a juggernaut over the lives, hope and dreams of an ordinary Glasgow family.
Another fact worthy of mention is that although the Jaconelli’s home is immediately adjacent to the Athlete’s Village site, in fact their land will be used to build private housing for sale by the developer Mactaggart & Mickel.
I don’t want to be grudging, Helen McArdle - this was the fairest Herald account of the Jaconelli’s long purgatory that has been given so far, and it captured some of the human reality of their plight. Just a little more fact checking and attention to detail, and you and the Herald will be almost there.
Thanks, Helen and the Herald!
My understanding (by telephone 4.20 today) is that Glasgow City Council, having originally rejected the offer from the Scottish Government to mediate in the dispute, this afternoon offered to accept mediation if Margaret first vacated her home, i.e. mediation will only be accepted by GCC if the Jaconelli’s give up their sole bargaining chip in the fight against a rich, powerful adversary, with all the resources of the law, law enforcement and Labour political clout on their side.
Margaret has rejected this – it was her decision in consultation with her husband. I have no first hand knowledge of what her lawyer Mike Dailly’s advice was, but I have no doubt that, whatever his advice was, he will still fully support his client in the new situation.
As a professional negotiator by background and training, I have only this to say -
Mediation is the process of an independent third party attempting to assist parties facing deadlock and conflict to reach an amicable resolution to their dispute. A mediator is not a arbitrator – he or she does not offer a preferred solution or binding decisions, and the parties are free to resume their previous courses of action if the mediation process fails.
But an essential pre-requirement of mediation is that the parties have defined their settlement points and identified the gap that separates them, and crucially, that they are willing to indicate their willingness to enter the mediation with an open mind and to vary their positions if the mediation process is successful.
This is the bargaining gap that must be bridged by the parties, assisted by the mediator.
Margaret has always been willing to do this. GCC has not, and gave no such indication today. The gap between her and Glasgow City Council is money and money only, and it is the distance between her target settlement figure (unknown to me) and Glasgow City Council’s last offer of £90,000.
If Margaret has not yet identified her target settlement point, she must do so now, and there must be no suggestion by either party that an easy option of splitting that difference is the right solution.
If this is done, both parties – Glasgow City Council and Margaret – then know exactly what separates them, and can assess the costs to themselves of remaining intransigent or accepting mediation to assist a compromise solution.
More importantly, the people of Glasgow and the wider Scottish public must know what this money gap is, and assess the behaviour of the parties in relation to it.
The following points have been repeated ad nauseam in the media and press about the Margaret Jaconelli case, fed by Glasgow City Council’s publicity machine. They are either untrue or highly partial and distorted versions of the truth. They are, in the true original sense of the word coined by Norman Mailer - factoids: things which everybody thinks are true except they ain’t.
Let’s nail them one by one …
Factoid 1. Margaret Jaconelli is refusing to give up her home, thus holding up the development of the Athlete’s Village for the Commonwealth Games, a desirable and necessary part of the regeneration of Glasgow’s East end.
Untrue: Margaret Jaconelli supports the regeneration project, recognises the inevitability of giving up her home, but has refused to do so until she is adequately compensated for its loss, her costs and the disruption to her life.
The Athlete’s Village is not being built on the site of MJ’s home - it is being built nearby. MJ’s home is required to allow Mactaggart & Mickel, a private developer and housebuilder, to build private housing for sale on the site.
Factoid 2. Margaret Jaconelli demanded £320,00 compensation for her home from Glasgow City Council, (GCC and media subtext: “…and is therefore greedy and unrealistic”)
Untrue: In one instance, a calculation was made contrasting two investment decisions - MJ’s decision to buy her house back from Bridgeton and Dalmarnock Housing Association in 1998 for a sum of £30k (a 1990 valuation) and a developer’s decision to buy two parcels of land of vacant land between 1988 and 1989 for £45k. It showed that GCC, armed with the same compulsory purchase legislation and legal rights to acquire both, freely negotiated a price with the developer, Grantly, of £5.5 million pounds, yielding a profit of almost £5.5.m, yet offered MJ the 1990 valuation of £3ok, and refused to negotiate or use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve the dispute.
As an illustration of the gross inequity of these two approaches by GCC, a calculation was made showing that, on an investment versus investment basis, an argument could be advanced that MJ should have been offered £3.5m , but even taking a realistic fraction of this because of the difference in land occupied by MJs home and the developer’s plots, a figure of £320,00 could be advanced as a figure.
This figure was never intended as anything other than an illustration of the gross inequity of treatment being meted out by GCC, but somewhere along the line, the figure appeared as a negotiating demand on GCC, without MJs knowledge or express authorisation, and was seized upon by GCC, the tabloids and the media. MJ would have happily settled in 2006 for a figure of £90,00 - a figure ultimately and belatedly only offered verbally this year - 2011 - by GCC, and never formalised in writing. (An earlier formal offer of £85,000 was made late last year, 2010.) Between 2006 and late 2010, no offers were made by GCC, contrary to a statement made yesterday by GCC and reported in today’s ‘Sun’ that “we have been negotiating with her since 2007 over mutually agreeable compensation terms and a new home for the family.”
Factoid 3: Glasgow City Council offered permanent alternative accommodation to Margaret Jaconelli and negotiated on the the location and nature of that accommodation.
Untrue: MJ was only offered temporary accommodation, on a take-it-or-leave-it basis and was expected to pay rental of around £400 per month to GCC for such temporary accommodation. Leaving aside the suitability of such temporary accommodation and its location, this offered no financial solution to a house owner who owned her property free and clear.
Factoid 4: Margaret Jaconelli is being unreasonable in rejecting a verbal offer of £90,000 for her home (which has never been formalised in writing with terms and conditions) in full and final settlement of all her claims, an offer that would have satisfied her in 2006.
Untrue: Since 2006, Margaret Jaconelli has been forced to pit her slender resources of money, time and energy against a giant City Council, one of the largest in the UK, with formidable resources of money, political influence, and able to call on the services of highly-paid professional, and legal advisors, including QCs.
She has incurred legal fees that she cannot afford, and heating and electricity bills way in excess of normal because of GCC’s actions in the vacant flats that surround her, actions that turned her once bustling, lively neighbourhood into a grim wasteland.
MJ could have bought a comparable property to the one she is losing in the middle of the price range for such properties in 2006 for £90,000, but she cannot do so now, because, prices have risen in that period, even in the face of the property slowdown after the crash.
Margaret Jaconelli’s settlement figure, which is a matter for her and her new, highly-capable lawyer, Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre, must now reflect those changes and her costs if she is to put her life back the way it was before Glasgow City Council, the law and the media attempted to roll over her little family life like a Juggernaut, to a shameful and deafening silence from every political party in Scotland.
That settlement figure must be separated from GCC’s last offer of £90,000 by a sum that is tiny in relation to GCC’s resources and the millions they have put into the pockets of speculative property developers. It probably represents a few months’ wages for a professional footballer, including those of Celtic Football Club, a stone’s throw away from 10 Ardenlea Street, a club that has maintained an equally shameful deafening silence over this Glasgow granny’s plight, in spite of their boast to be ‘Celtic in the Community’.
The outcome of today will be a sordid and depressing spectacle as this little Glasgow family have their doors broken down and are forcibly evicted from their home of 34 years.
But even at this eleventh hour, the great City of Glasgow could show some humanity. This needn’t happen!
Discussion of the Margaret Jaconelli case - online, email and direct - with a wide range of people, sadly indicates that the press and Glasgow City Council campaign of misinformation about the real nature of this case has had its negative impact. Trying to cut through that has been dispiriting, but for Margaret and Jack Jaconelli and their family, I must try again.
And so we come to an ordinary family in the east end of Glasgow in the year 2006 - the Jaconellis, of Ardenlea Street, Dalmarnock.
THE JACONELLIS in 2006 - and in March 2011
Margaret Jaconelli has lived at 10 Ardenlea Street, Dalmarnock since she was 17 - since 1976. She and her husband owned their two-bedroom, substantial and comfortable red sandstone flat on the ground floor of the tenement building. The house had been owned by them, then sold to Bridgeton and Dalmarnock housing association in 1981, then bought back in 1998 for £30,000. (The terms of the initial sale and buyback from the housing association were that 10 years had to elapse before a buyback was possible.)
Although the Jaconellis bought the house back in 1998, the purchase price was based on a 1990 valuation of £30,000, when in fact property prices had risen substantially in the period 1990-1998, and the Jaconellis, in common with anyone who bought a rented property from a housing association or council, felt that this was a good deal and they now owned, free and clear, a property that was worth considerably more.
This point is vital to considering the equity of the valuation and offer made in 2006 by GCC. £30,000 was a 1990 valuation, and property prices had risen substantially in that 16 year period, even in Glasgow East. Because of hard work and thrift all of their lives they were financially stable, and enjoyed their community in Dalmarnock, surrounded by friends, neighbours and friendly local shops and businesses.
All that was about to change - the storm clouds were gathering for Margaret, her family and their friends and neighbours.
They had been well aware of the Glasgow East regeneration plan, for the very good reason that those all around them who did not own their homes had been forced out of their rented accommodation by GCC, who announced their intentions in 2001/2002 to pull the building down.
Developers had purchased plots of land near them years before, clearly in the hope that something big was coming, and in the expectancy that they could sell at a profit. That’s what developers do. Nobody seemed, however, to be developing anything - they appeared to be waiting for GCC to make its move.
And move they did, in the form of compulsory purchase orders in March 2006 for both housing, shops, businesses - and vacant plots of land owned by developers.
The law relating to compulsory purchase legislation is confused, sometime contradictory and of mind-bending complexity, even to lawyers. (I have spoken informally to a number of lawyers, and every one of them said that lawyers quailed before the legislation, and that it was an area for narrowly-focused experts - and there were few of them.) Since the Crichel Down scandal of the 1950s, this has been a scary, but vital area of the law.
What is certain is that the individual without unlimited private means has no chance against the formidable legal teams and tactics that can be deployed against them by the authority making the compulsory purchase.
I am a layman - I have no chance of understanding this legislation. But I have the duty, and the right as a citizen to form a judgement on when a gross injustice is likely to visited on ordinary people by the necessary process of compulsory purchase. Unlike a number of politicians and intelligent individuals who should know better, I don’t hide behind the facile excuse that it is best left to the law and lawyers, especially when the dice are heavily loaded and the game, if not quite fixed, usually has a pre-determined outcome.
Fortunately, Margaret Jaconelli has now got a fine, committed lawyer with a deeply-rooted concern for equity and justice - Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre.
Put as simply as I can, the facts as I understand them are these -
In 2006, Margaret Jaconelli’s home effectively became the property of Glasgow City Council. Their only duty at law was to value the property and offer compensation.
Margaret Jaconelli accepted - and still accepts (unlike the property owners in Aberdeen in the Trump dispute) that the Glasgow East Development was a good thing, and that it was inevitable that she and her family must vacate their home.
All she wanted was an offer of compensation that would
allow her to buy a new freehold property comparable to her own in an area of her choice
meet her legal costs of buying and moving
offer some financial recognition of the major disruption caused to her and her family.
In 2006, when GCC announced the compulsory purchases, two-bedroom red sandstone flats were selling in the wider area of the East of Glasgow for a media price of about £85,000/£90,000. Of course, property values in Ardenlea Street had already been adversely affect by the very Glasgow East Development blight that caused the compulsory purchase in the first place.
Margaret did not have the option of buying a property in Dalmarnock because it would no longer exist in its present form, and would become a vacant lot as the bulldozers moved in.
She therefore reasonably expected an offer somewhere in excess of £90,000 for all of the reasons set out above.
She received instead, in March 2006, an offer of £30,000 - the price at which she had bought the house several years earlier, a price the same as the 1990 valuation - an offer that, after legal and moving costs were met, would effectively destroy her investment in her home, and throw her to the very bottom end of the housing market.
Her only legal remedy - and even that is questionable - was to accept the offer, move out and then fight her case for compensation to the Land Tribunal, a process that can take 7 to 10 years, with an uncertain outcome at the end of it, and major legal costs incurred.
But as if this was not bad enough, all around her, developers who had speculatively bought vacant plots of land or created them by demolishing what had previously stood upon the land, in spite of being subject to the same legislation, were making profits of millions - in one case selling land to GCC that they had bought for £45,000 for £5.5 million pounds.
How could this be? Simply because Glasgow City Council applied a valuation procedure apparently based on the now inflated potential value of the land based on future development, and then negotiated with the developers above that figure!
Margaret Jaconelli, in stark contrast, was valued based on the depressed value of properties in the area caused by GCC’s development plans, and was refused any chance to negotiate a fair settlement.
If this is not injustice, I don’t know what is, and if the law says this is equitable, then the law is not only an ass, it is bad, bad law.
Margaret, faced with this gross inequity of treatment, used the only bargaining chip she had - she refused to move out until a reasonable offer was made. I have to say that I would have done the same, and anyone in their right mind would have done the same.
Of course, with the award of the 2014 Commonwealth Games to Glasgow some time after 2006, the game changed dramatically, and Dalmarnock will now be the site of the Athlete’s Village. Margaret’s area will however be private housing built by Mactaggart and Mickel - in what is now described as “the highly-desirable riverside area in Dalmarnock”.
During the seven long, lonely years for Margaret and her family since 2004, the £30,000 offer stood as the only offer made by GCC. In that period, Margaret and her family have seen the flats above and around them vacated, the windows remove and boarded up, the area becoming a wasteland, and her heating bill consequentially soaring in one of the worst winter’s in living memory.
A fundamental misunderstanding about the alternative accommodation offered to the Jaconellis by GCC exists, and has been kept alive by the press, and GCC. The facts are that Margaret Jaconelli has only ever been offered temporary rented accommodation, at rents of around £400 per month, and there has never been any firm offer of permanent rented accommodation. These offer were made just before a court appearance last year, and on very recently, then immediately withdrawn. No one in their right mind would have accepted such an offer under the circumstances, leaving aside the suitability of such rented accommodation.
END OF 2010 - THE FIRST REVISED OFFER
But at the end of last year, in November 2010, GCC upped the offer to £85,000, in settlement of all claims, an offer that Margaret might well have accepted in 2006. But in 2010/2011, this offer, which took no recognition of her costs, her nightmare years as the only resident in the tenement block, and the rise in property values elsewhere, was not nearly enough to buy a two-bedroom red sandstone equivalent property in an area of her choice. Again she would have been forced to the lower end of the market.
Earlier this year, a verbal offer slightly above the £85,000 offer was made informally and verbally by telephone, to Margaret and to her lawyer. In spite of a request to have it confirmed in writing in order that the conditions attached could be evaluate, this was refused.
Margaret has requested mediation, now a well-established method of dispute resolution. This too has been refused by GCC.
Next Thursday, Margaret will face an appalling choice, one I don’t have to spell out, as her long fight comes near to its end, and the authorities arrive to evict her, by force if necessary. No one can advise her on how to make that choice but her family, and the end result is inevitable, given the law.
Margaret’s last hope in the very few days left to her, is her lawyer Mike Dailly’s appeal against the eviction. If anyone can secure justice against such a concentration of money, power and big city politics, it is Mike.
But these are worrying days for the Jaconellis.
GLASGOW EAST REGENERATION, AND MY COMMENT
Here is an extract from a factsheet about the Glasgow East regeneration project (see link for full report)
In 2004, following the Cities Review, The Scottish Executive (now Scottish Government), recognising the extent of Glasgow’s vacant land problem, allocated £10 million to Glasgow, for the reclamation of vacant and derelict land for the period 2004-2006. A subsequent allocation of £10m was made for the period 2006-2008. Programmes of projects were devised and implemented in partnership with Scottish Enterprise Glasgow and Communities Scotland, with approximately 180 ha of sites being treated and/or investigated. A further allocation of £13 million has been made for the period 2009-2011. This will focus upon delivering sites for the Commonwealth Games and supporting the Council’s key regeneration priorities.
There is a great silence about what led to the vacant and derelict land in the East End of Glasgow - it was not caused by a meteor strike or bombing by unseen enemies - it resulted from decades of neglect of their people by the Labour-dominated Glasgow City Council, coupled with a helluva lot of land being acquired by hard-eyed and expert developers at knock-down prices, with an eye to a future prosperity that only they could see, either because they were extraordinarily prescient, or because they acted upon hard information received from a variety of sources.
That is a developer’s job - to gather facts, both hard facts and rumours, to maintain solid links with politicians, to monitor the freely available minutes of council and governmental minutes and meetings, and to cultivate contacts who might have relevant information about which way the wind of change is blowing.
There’s nothing wrong with that - developers are not gamblers, and although they take financial risks, they are carefully calculated risks.
The record of urban development throughout the world is a record of entrepreneurial initiative, but it is also a record of sordid municipal and governmental corruption, of the trading of insider information for profit. This unsavoury record is documented in the press, in the records of the courts, in legal judgments, in prosecutions, and, significantly in films, drama, television and books. (The recent South Riding series on BBC, based on the book and set in the 1930s, was one such example of municipal corruption, even though the outcomes were desirable.)
How much of the development speculation associated with the Glasgow East regeneration project was legitimate, legal and ethical entrepreneurship, and how much - if any - was corrupt, we may never know. What we do know is the appalling record of the City of Glasgow over recent years. I need only mention the Purcell Affair - Purcell's gangster links - and its ramifications, the ALEO's- the cosy gravy train, and other scandals involving expenses and complex links between media, PR firms, etc. to make the point that Glasgow City Council has never been the cleanest or most transparent of local authorities.
I have blogged extensively on many of these matters - a couple of links -
(My closing remarks in the Purcell blog seem hollow now, in that there was a Tory win and a hung Parliament, but we got something as bad or worse!)
I have taken down my most recent post (a collection of today’s tweets) on the Margaret Jaconelli judgement because I now accept that the judgement, dated 3rd March (!) was available in the court, at least since yesterday. Gerry Braiden of The Herald contacted me with this information, and also sent me a copy of the judgement.
He accessed the freely-available judgement at the court, as he has a perfect right to do, and only ran the story when he realised that a freelance new agency had also accessed it. This is in accordance with good journalistic practice, and I accept completely that he acted in good faith and in accordance with professional ethics. I appreciate his information and clarification on this matter.
I still take issue with the superficial way in which the media in general have handled this case, and the inaccurate facts presented in many instances.
But the matter is now firmly in what I believe are the safe and principled hands of Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre, and that an appeal is highly likely.
I hope it will be successful.
moridura Peter Curran
#MargaretJaconelli Celtic in the Community has failed MJ. Why? Ask John Reid, Chairman, former Labour Minister. He used to care about people.
moridura Peter Curran
#MargaretJaconelli Celtic in the Community has failed MJ. What community are they in? The one of wealth, celebrity & huge developer profits?
moridura Peter Curran
#MargaretJaconelli Where are the human values of Glasgow's Valuations Department? How do they value the life of a Glasgow grandmother?
moridura Peter Curran
#MargaretJaconelli One developer alone made profit of £5.5m on a plot 200 yards from her home. Mactaggart & Mickel will profit from building
moridura Peter Curran
#MargaretJaconelli Lived in her home since 1976 - her home, her neighbourhood, her finances destroyed by GCC. All she wants is a fair price
moridura Peter Curran
Compulsory purchase law - a legal maze of conflicting, outmoded legislation. Ordinary Glaswegians destroyed by it, developers make millions
moridura Peter Curran
#MargaretJaconelli She's not refusing to move, nor to negotiate - she only wants a fair price. The developers have made millions from GCC.
moridura Peter Curran
#MargaretJaconelli Predictably failed by Labour, ConLibs, The Herald, The Record - failed by Glasgow City Councillors. But surely not deserted by SNP???
moridura Peter Curran
#MargaretJaconelli If ever there was a case for MEDIATION, this is it. Can someone act NOW before 16th Feb court eviction appearance?
moridura Peter Curran
@David_Mc_Donald Thanks for that David - the family are alone, vulnerable, without legal representation. They need help now from their party
moridura Peter Curran
#SNP Margaret Jaconelli faces eviction in 11 days. Labour, LibDems and Tories predictably silent. But the SNP? John Mason? Alison Thewliss?
Margaret Jaconelli appeared at the Sheriff Court, Glasgow yesterday in pursuit of her case for fair compensation for her wholly-owned tenement flat in Ardenlea Street, Dalmarnock.
The purpose of the hearing was to consider the eviction order Glasgow City Council is attempting to enforce against her, and to hear Margaret’s claim that GCC had not followed due process of law in previous hearings. She was unrepresented because her solicitor had withdrawn from the case, and she therefore secured a new hearing date of 16th February to permit her to find and brief a new solicitor.
In court were two newspaper reporters, Gerry Braiden of the Herald and Paul Drury, a freelance reporter acting for the Scottish Sun newspaper. Paul Drury has been in contact with Margaret by telephone and had direct contact and dialogue with her in the court. Gerry Braiden has had no contact with Margaret since the Herald’s and Evening Times’ previous hostile and pejorative coverage of her case, and made no attempt to speak to her, before or after the court proceedings or by telephone.
The Herald and the Scottish Sun today both ran significant stories about the case, but from very different perspectives - see links below
The Sun focused on the massive profits made by Grantly Developments on two plots of land bought for a total of £45k in 1988/89 very close to Margaret Jaconelli’s home in Ardenlea Street, and the analysis made by a Glasgow University lecturer, published author and expert on urban regeneration and development, Dr. Libby Porter of the the two valuations made by Glasgow City Council of two plots of land under the compulsory purchase legislation.
The Sun used these calculations to run under the headline
£3.6m - THAT’LL BE JUST GRAN
Expert’s price tag on £30k pad
Exclusive by Paul Drury
The Herald, in contrast, with no recent contact with Margaret Jaconelli and no contact with Dr. Libby Porter, chose to run under the headline
Four-week eviction delay for woman on Games site
Grandmother secures reprieve after being dropped by solicitor
The headline and sub-header are not too bad, but the story that follows is mainly pejorative in tone and content, consistent with the Herald and Gerry Braiden’s previous coverage of the MJ case.
But there are disturbing aspects in this story relating to the facts presented by Gerry Braiden. He refers to the meeting between Margaret Jaconelli and her solicitor, Mr. Carmichael with the Glasgow City Council District Valuer, Mr. Davidson. No other person was present. No offer of any kind was made to Margaret Jaconelli and her solicitor at that meeting.
But Gerry Braiden says (last para column two) in his report today -
“The Herald understands that at the meeting, Mrs. Jaconelli was offered around £90,000, which included money for the flat, upheaval and compensation. Mrs. Jaconelli is understood to have have rejected this, and although she is no longer demanding £360,000 for the two-bedroom tenement property, she is now believed to be holding out for a figure of about £250,000”
Every word of this is either untrue or a distortion of the facts, and certain very disturbing questions are raised about the Herald’s sources of information, their accuracy and their motivation.
1. No offer of any kind was made at the meeting on Tuesday 18th of January by the Glasgow City Council District Valuer.
2. A verbal offer was made at a later point in time verbally to Margaret Jaconelli’s solicitor, of £90,000, which he relayed verbally to Margaret Jaconelli by telephone, and no terms and conditions were specified in these verbal exchanges.
3. Margaret Jaconelli neither accepted nor rejected the verbal offer - her position was - and is - that she will give full consideration to any offer made to her in writing with all terms and conditions detailed in the offer.
4. Margaret Jaconelli has never ‘demanded’ £360,000 for her flat. Such a figure was quoted as an example of how various interpretations of value could be posited if the huge settlements made with various developers - The Grantly figures - were applied to MJ’s property, assuming some form of proportionality were applied to the relative sizes of the plots of land involved. (The Sun’s £3.6m illustrates the most extreme comparison.)
5. In the discussions with the District Valuer, MJ and her solicitor stated what her aspirations were - to achieve an agreed settlement that permitted her to buy a similar two-bedroomed, red sandstone flat in an area of her choice and have all her legal, conveyancing and moving costs met, plus some recognition of the excessive heating costs she has sustained over many years as as result of being forced to live in a tenement block where every other tenant or owner had left, and have some compensation for the disruption to her life caused by GCC.
Some discussion and speculation ensued as to what this figure might be, but no specific demand was made. The District Valuer made a reference to two-bedroom flat being on the market for around £63k. Since this represented the bottom of the market, MJ and her solicitor rejected such a figure.
The disturbing questions raised by Gerry Braiden and the Herald’s article are these -
From whom did Gerry Braiden and the Herald learn of an offer of £90,000 being made which was known only to MJ and her solicitor? On the face of it, it can only have been from a source within Glasgow City Council, since neither Braiden nor the Herald spoke to MJ or her solicitor?
Why was the offer misrepresented as being made at the meeting with the District Valuer, when no offer was made at that meeting?
Why did the Herald report there being highly specific terms and conditions to the offer, when no such terms and conditions have been specified, either verbally or in writing by GCC?
Why did Gerry Braiden inaccurately report that MJ had rejected such an offer, without interviewing her or her solicitor, when her clear position is that she will give full consideration to any offer properly made in writing with all terms and conditions detailed?
The $64,000 question - or perhaps the £3.5 million question is - Why has the Herald consistently presented a highly pejorative and one-sided view of Margaret Jaconelli’s case, one that at every stage has been selective in the facts presented, effectively only giving a platform to Glasgow City Council’s version of events, and leaving an impression of the vulnerable, ordinary - but extraordinary - Glasgow grandmother as a greedy, obstructive woman making unreasonable claims?
Nothing could be further from the truth, as anyone who has spoken to Margaret Jaconelli will testify. I came across Margaret’s case by accident, and have only known her since she contacted me following my first blog on the subject. We have never met, yet I will now stay with her to the end of her persecution by powerful forces in Glasgow, and until she reaches what she regards as an equitable settlement.
Why did Chris Leslie, a Glasgow photographer and filmmaker, engage with Margaret’s case, champion her cause, and make a very moving film of her plight for YouTube?
Why did Dr. Libby Porter, a respected academic and expert on urban regenerations projects and planning law at Glasgow University’s Department of Urban Studies become interested in the facts of this strange and disturbing case?
The answer is that Margaret Jaconelli is an extraordinary woman, resilient and determined to put her life together in the face of an onslaught from powerful forces in Glasgow society. She supports the development, supports and welcomes the Commonwealth Games, and is perfectly willing to move - but only if basic principles of justice and equity prevail, and she receives a settlement that enables her and her husband to resume their lives as hard-working Scots, typical of the very best in the Glasgow and specifically the Glasgow East end character.
And during Margaret’s long fight, where the hell have the Labour Party been? Where has Anas Sarwar,MP been? Where has Frank McAveety, MSP been? The thing that used to be the People’s Party has been conspicuous by its absence and its silence, as a City council controlled by their party attempts to destroy Margaret Jaconelli.
And what of my own party, the Scottish National Party?
They have been aware of the case, they have expressed interest and concern, and Councillor Billy McAllister - that rare beast, a Glasgow Councillor with a deep concern for equity and justice, always willing to confront corruption in the city - has been working hard behind the scenes for justice for Margaret.
But, SNP, you have not yet done enough or said enough publicly! Now is the time to show where you stand, clearly and unequivocally. A helluva lots of Glasgow voters will have your stance in mind when they go to the polls in May, in about 100 days or so.
Born and bred in Glasgow, I feel a surge of understandable civic pride when I see how the law protects the citizens of Glasgow from corruption and venality among their elected officials. (see Declaration of Councillors Interest document, reproduced below)
Secure in the knowledge that the legislation on Ethical Standards in Public Life and the Register of Interests Regulations requires every Glasgow city councillor to complete such a comprehensive declaration of interests, I can relax. Democracy is safe, in Glasgow at least. (I am certain that Edinburgh has a similar document, but corruption among elected officials in Edinburgh has not been at the forefront of my civic concerns in recent years.)
Corruption among elected officials strikes at the very heart of democracy, opening up the certainty of involvement of organised crime, perversion of journalistic values and a free press, with not even the processes of law and policing being exempt from the spreading cancer.
When corruption exists in government, commercial dealings are insidiously influenced: ethical procurement practices, tendering processes, contractual processes are all subject to its poisonous effects.
The information controlled by elected politicians, instead of being a force for openness, consultation and engagement with the electorate and the people, becomes something to be traded for profit. Insider information, say on the timing of a major city development project, if leaked to speculators could yield enormous unearned profits.
No one, no person, no institution, however venerable, is immune from political corruption. The levers of power have a hidden hand at their base: the framing and enactment of legislation is perverted by considerations of private greed, patronage and profit. And since corruption and organised crime know no local or national boundaries, forces and interests far beyond the democratic structures of constituencies, regions and countries exert insidious influences, invisible to the people.
The law-abiding, moral, ethical citizen become the victim of corruption, and is even obliged to be compliant, or at least silent in the face of it, by subtle mix of appeals to self-interest, to career prospects and advancement, to misplaced loyalties to party, religion and social group.
When this approach fails, and the most resilient individuals resist it, then an escalating process of intimidation, smear, manipulation of legal processes and where necessary, threats and violence come into play.
So it is with a feeling of relief and civic pride that I look at the great bulwarks that protect us from corruption - the law, a free press and media, and of course, a little declaration of interest, of which the Glasgow City Council form, reproduced below, is a fine example.
Let Glasgow flourish!
REGISTER OF COUNCILLORS’ INTERESTS
The Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000
(Register of Interests) Regulations 2003
Last updated 6 May 2009
I, (name of councillor), a member of Glasgow City Council give notice that I have set out in the attached form, my interests as required to be declared under the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 (Register of Interests) Regulations 2003. I have also ensured that where I have no applicable interest I have stated “none” in the relevant section(s).
I further understand that it is my responsibility to notify the Chief Executive, in writing, of any applicable change(s) in circumstances within one month of that/those changes occurring.
Please complete this form in conjunction with reading the relevant paragraphs as detailed at each section (extracted from the Councillors’ Code of Conduct) together with the list of definitions included within the register. Please note the paragraph numbering relates to the sequence within the Code.
If you have any doubts as to whether or not you should declare a particular interest, it is wiser to supply the information rather than omit something which you should have declared.
4.3 You have a registerable interest where you receive remuneration by virtue of being:
the holder of an office;
a director of an undertaking;
a partner in a firm; or
undertaking a trade, profession or vocation, or other work.
4.4 You do not have a registerable interest simply because you are a councillor.
4.5 If a position is not remunerated it does not need to be registered under this category. However, unremunerated directorships may need to be registered under category 2 “Related Undertakings”.
4.6 If you receive any allowances in relation to membership of any organisation the fact that you receive such an allowance must be registered.
4.7 When registering employment, you must give the name of the employer, the nature of its business and the nature of the post held in the organisation.
4.8 When registering self-employment, you must provide the name and give details of the nature of the business. When registering an interest in a partnership, you must give the name of the partnership and the nature of its business.
4.9 Where you otherwise undertake a trade, profession or vocation, or any other work, the detail to be given is the nature of the work and its regularity. For example, if you write for a newspaper, you must give the name of the publication and the frequency of articles for which you are paid.
4.10 When registering a directorship, it is necessary to provide the registered name of the undertaking in which the directorship is held and detail the nature of its business.
4.11 Registration of a pension is not required as this falls outside the scope of the category.
(a) Give particulars of all paid employment specifying name(s) of employer(s), nature of business and title(s) of position(s) held. If self-employed give name and nature of business.
(b) If you are a partner in a business give name of partnership and nature of its business.
(c) Give details of any office/membership held by you (outwith Glasgow City Council) for which you receive payment – eg Trade Union or professional
body. (Do not include any office/membership for which you do not receive remuneration, this is dealt with at Section 7).
(d) Give details of any directorship(s) held by you (as specified at 4.10 above).
(e) Give details of other paid work (as specified at 4.9 above).
2 RELATED UNDERTAKINGS.
4.12 You must register any directorships held which are themselves not remunerated but where the company (or other undertaking) in question is a subsidiary of, or a parent of, a company (or other undertaking) in which you hold a remunerated directorship.
4.13 You must register the name of the subsidiary or parent company or other undertaking and the nature of its business, and its relationship to the company or other undertaking in which you are a director and from which you receive remuneration.
4.14 The situations to which the above paragraphs apply are as follows:
you are a director of a board of an undertaking and receive remuneration – declared under Category one – and
you are a director of a parent or subsidiary undertaking but do not receive remuneration in that capacity.
Give details of any directorships held by you, as specified above.
4.15 You have a registerable interest where you (or a firm in which you are a partner, or an undertaking in which you are a director or in which you have shares of a value as described in paragraph 4.20 below) have made a contract with the Council of which you are a member:
under which goods or services are to be provided, or works are to be
(ii) which has not been fully discharged.
4.16 You must register a description of the contract, including its duration, but excluding the consideration.
Give details, as specified above, in relation to contracts with Glasgow City Council which have not been fully discharged, including description of that/those contract(s) and duration.
4 ELECTION EXPENSES.
4.17 You must register a statement of any assistance towards election expenses received within the last twelve months.
Give details of any assistance received over the last 12 months as specified above.
5 HOUSES, LAND AND BUILDINGS.
4.18 You have a registerable interest where you own or have any other right or interest in houses, land and buildings, such as being an owner or a tenant, including council tenant.
4.19 You are required to give the address of the property, or otherwise give a description sufficient to identify it.
Give details of houses, land and buildings as specified above.
6 SHARES AND SECURITIES.
4.20 You have a registerable interest where you have an interest in shares comprised in the share capital of a company or other body and the nominal value of the shares is:
greater than 1% of the issued share capital of the company or other
(ii) greater than £25,000.
Give details of any shares and securities held by you as specified above.
7 NON FINANCIAL INTERESTS.
4.21 Councillors may also have significant non-financial interests and it is equally important that relevant interests such as membership or holding office in public bodies, companies, clubs, societies and organisations such as trades unions and voluntary organisations, are registered and described. In this context, non-financial interests are those which members of the public might reasonably think could influence your actions, speeches or votes in the Council.
Give details of any office/membership held by you (outwith Glasgow City Council), for which you do not receive remuneration, as specified above.
8 GIFTS AND HOSPITALITY.
3.6 You must never ask for gifts or hospitality.
3.7 You are personally responsible for all decisions connected with the acceptance of gifts or hospitality offered to you and for avoiding the risk of damage to public confidence in your Council and in local government. As a general guide, it is usually appropriate to refuse offers except:
(a) isolated gifts of a trivial character or inexpensive seasonal gifts such as a calendar or diary or other simple items of office equipment of modest value;
(b) normal hospitality associated with your duties and which would reasonably be regarded as appropriate; or
(c) civic gifts received on behalf of the Council.
A link to a very moving and pertinent YouTube video made some time ago about MJ's situation, by Chris Leslie, a supporter.
Margaret met with the District Valuer yesterday and presented her claim for what she sees as an equitable settlement - a broadly comparable 2-bedroom flat to her present home, which she owns free and clear. I know the standard of such homes - my first flat when I got married in 1960 was just such a tenement flat, substantial, with generously proportioned rooms.
GCC seems to think she can be fobbed off with a 2-bedroom flat at the bottom end of the price range in relevant districts, roughly £63k to £140k plus. The top end is represented by exactly the kind of flat MJ now lives in, before the area and environs were vandalised by GCC and the development process. Margaret also wants her legal and conveyancing purchase fees paid and has a claim for excessive heating and lighting bills caused by the emptying and boarding up of all the flats surrounding her in the Ardenlea Street tenement.
No resolution was reached, and no offer was made by the valuer at yesterdays meeting. MJ now faces a hearing at the Sheriff Court in Glasgow at 10.00 am tomorrow, Thursday 20th, which will consider whether due process has been followed. It is essentially an eviction hearing, and an eviction order could be confirmed tomorrow morning and action to evict would follow swiftly thereafter.
The Scottish National Party has been kept fully apprised of the case, SNP councillors on the GCC are actively pursuing aspects of her case: Billy McAllister, SNP Glasgow City councillor is in active discussion with Margaret about her case. The SNP Communications Director, Peter Murrell is also closely monitoring the case, and reporting to the highest levels in the Scottish Government.
At the court hearing tomorrow, MJ will be accompanied by friends at court, and the freelance reporter Paul Dury, who placed the sympathetic Scottish Sun coverage of the case, will also be present. The Scottish Daily Express have been in touch with Margaret.
There has been a predictable, shameful and deafening silence from the Herald, the Evening Times and the Daily Record, all Labour-supporting papers, with a disgraceful representation for bias in what should be objective news reporting.
The Herald, which as the Glasgow Herald can lay claim to be the oldest newspaper in continuous publication in the world, has fallen a long way from its formerly high standards of journalism and editorial objectivity, almost as fast as its circulation has over recent years.
If individual don't matter enough to get their voices heard in this tortured world of ours, what does matter?
A last word - Glasgow Sheriff Court is in the old Gorbals district of Glasgow, famous and infamous in turn for its slums, its old Glasgow gangs and the seminal 1930s novel No Mean City.
But today's Glasgow, under Labour and the GCC can be a very mean city, and a brutal injustice is being done to an archetypal Glaswegian family here by the very people and party that claims to be their champions.