READERS’ LETTERS

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What our readers have been writing about this week.

Sir, – I thought it was groundhog day when I read a story in last week’s News.

I thought I had sent a letter into the paper re the mess surrounding the Ice-House. Sorry - I did send in a letter re the mess and now it seems that a certain councillor, who stated that he utilised the area to gain access to the library, has seen fit to NOW do something about it.

In my mind if you are a public servant and you utilised this area why, oh why, oh why was something not done about it before now as this area has been like a midden for ages.

I also find it astonishing that a local councillor is not aware of who the owners of the said building are. Surely NLC are aware of who owns what in our town, or do they? – Yours etc.,

BILL HENRY

via email

Avoid the rush

Sir, – Your readers can avoid some of the Christmas rush this year by getting their greetings cards at World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF)’s website.

This year we are selling a fantastic new range of Christmas cards, plus some old favourites, to give plenty of variety this festive season.

As well as being great cards, by purchasing from the WCRF Christmas card catalogue your readers will be contributing to our vital cancer prevention research and education programmes.

To order cards from WCRF, complete the online order form at www.wcrf-uk.org/christmas or call 020 7343 4205 to order over the phone. Orders should be placed by December 9 to ensure timely delivery.

Thank you for supporting our work. Everyone at WCRF wishes your readers and their families a happy Christmas. – Yours etc.,

PAUL FRETWELL

Head of Fundraising

WCRF

Flats slowly turning to slums?

Sir, – Last Thursday, Sanctuary reached the last station in its four-year unstoppable journey to the compulsory purchase of Cumbernauld’s distinctive high rise flats. It has systematically distracted all stakeholders from the possibility of affordable refurbishment through its domination of the Cumbernauld Multi Storey Strategy Working Group (Strategy Group) formed in November 2007 with Peter Martin and Gordon Laurie key members from the start. Though private owners are in the majority at 62 per cent, owners’ representatives were successfully excluded from this seminal group by Sanctuary who could then control the dissemination of information.

This included wildly exaggerated refurbishment costs and clever manipulation of technical data for the designation ‘state of serious disrepair’ to be placed on all of our flats. Despite these ploys, Sanctuary polled only 47 per cent of resident owners for demolition. For Sanctuary tenants this number was 58 per cent and for non resident owners a mere 35 per cent.

So how is it that our Council has agreed to compulsorily acquire our flats and pass them on to Sanctuary for demolition? Right up until the Sanctuary Group letter to CHP of October 2, 2008 throwing down the gauntlet ‘demolition or no deal’, North Lanarkshire Council’s Chief Executive favoured refurbishment.

Most worrying now for residents of these blocks is how little money Sanctuary are prepared to spend on their upkeep during this long term demolition project. In February 2009, North Lanarkshire Council were concerned about the effect the Cumbernauld High Rise demolition plan would have on its residents. Head of Housing Services (agenda item 4 for the Council Meeting February 25, 2009) demanded of Sanctuary as a precondition “A more detailed Business Plan that fully considers feasibility and phasing of the re-provisioning programme, including proposals for managing/maintaining blocks in the short term, and capacity of Sanctuary/CHP to manage and deliver such a complex project.”

But despite this, NLC has authorised CPOs without examination of any such business plan. Apparently Sanctuary Cumbernauld are still finalising their Management Strategy for the blocks. NLC’s Executive Director of Housing & Social Work Services assures us that NLC will work closely with Sanctuary to ensure the welfare of residents in the flats. But even she qualifies this with “However, I would advise that the council does not have any regulatory role in relation to Sanctuary”.

By what means can high rise residents ensure that they will not be living for the next six, eight or ten years in flats slowly disintegrating into slums? – Yours etc.,

ANNE ESCOTT

Morison House

Kildrum

Council approval is disgraceful

Sir, – NLC’s decision to approve the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders to force acquisition of the high rise flats from private owners is disgraceful. Our local councillors have therefore facilitated minimal compensation, planned long term neglect and replacement extraordinarily expensive “shoebox” homes rather than the spacious flats we own at present. These same councillors have ignored all of our concerns for three full years and more regarding the legally ambiguous behaviour of Sanctuary, CHP, the Scottish Housing Regulator and indeed NLC themselves.

Sanctuary gain free property in the form of all tenanted homes which used to belong to CHP, the properties forced from the private owners by CPO also free, the surrounding lands free from NLC and free funding from the Scottish Government to demolish and rebuild so called “shared equity” flats.

All of this makes the highly undemocratic decision to approve the use of CPO’s very sad and indeed allows Sanctuary to avoid paying the true value for our homes. They budgeted £40,000 per fault to buy us out yet NLC have stated that our flats are only worth £27,000 once more favouring Sanctuary above the people whom they have been foisted upon, ie: the residents of these structurally sound buildings. – Yours etc.,

DEREK A. CONDON

Chairman

Registered Factored Owners Association, Cumbernauld

The fight goes on!

Sir, – Following opposition from service users and the people of Kildrum, NHS Lanarkshire has reversed their decision to close the Practice Treatment Rooms at Kildrum Health Centre.

This is great news for the Kildrum Community and as secretary of Save Kildrum Treatment Rooms Action Committee, I would like to thank all those who let their opposition be known. This change in decision shows what can be done when people stand their ground and show their opposition.

However, the fight goes on! NHS Lanarkshire as a consequence of Kildrum’s reprieve, now want to reduce the service in Abronhll Health Centre Treatment Rooms to a part-time basis only. This must be opposed with the same vigour as the campaign in Kildrum.

The Action Committee intend planning the way forward at our next meeting scheduled for 7pm, on Monday, November 21 at the Y Farmhouse, Afton Road, Kildrum.

Anyone concerned regarding both the treatment rooms in Kildrum and/or Abronhill is very welcome to attend. For further information please contact by email on andy.locke57@gmail.com – Yours etc.,

ANDY LOCKE

Secretary

Save Kildrum Treatment Rooms Action Committee