Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Report of Assistant Housing Officer November 1971

This month I visited 96 tenants and left cards at a further 103 houses. In itself, this would suggest that evening visits might be appropriate for tenants who are never in during the day, and who may have problems just as great as those whom we see.
  Of these 96, 34 had neither complaints or comments, seemed to be settling well, and were pleased, on balance, with their new situation. Most of them had a relative or friend in the town before moving here.
16 families showed great enthusiasm for the town. In general, they emphasised the advantages for their children (especially traffic-free play). 
1.       17 families complained that the head of the household has been unable to find employment here, and that it is costly and difficult to travel from here to seek work elsewhere. A further problem for these people is that they must travel to Bathgate to report or investigate any SocSec complications.
2.       Having to travel to work (7 to Edinburgh, 4 to Glasgow) was another cause for complaint. While some men are quite content to do this, and can manage to arrange lifts amongst themselves, it entails serious hardship for others, who may work awkward shifts or are in poor health. To leave this work voluntarily hoping to find something locally, is to accept reduced, or no benefit from SocSec. For six weeks.
3.       There were 12 families with financial difficulty- trying to cope on SocSec. In the long term, Miss Still, the YM/YMCA volunteer organiser, will provide support for these families in the person of a volunteer housewife who will help to budget etc. But in the meantime she has recruited no volunteers, and S.W.D. cannot offer more than one interview to such families. They can be helped with clothing, and furniture, where available, but where several such families have moved into one street (Pinebank) and no continuous help is available, there is a danger of a “bad area” reputation developing.
4.       Only 7 families reported general difficulty with settling in and getting to know people. This problem was of varying degree, and only serious in one case where there is also acute financial difficulty. Younger housewives (under 25) whose husbands are in employment, and who have very young, or no family, are especially at risk here, since they feel alienated from the majority of wives (over 30) with whom they feel have little in common. Where appropriate, I encouraged such woman to attend Young Wives Groups, take up badminton etc. And in one case provided an excuse for one to call on another, but  this “matchmaking” is no solution and could be harmful. Those who know no-one in the town before arriving and who are not from Glasgow, are more likely to feel this loneliness. I shall call back on all these families in time to discover how, if not at all, the problem is solved. I would not be surprised to discover that these women never wanted to come here in the first place, and so had a negative approach from the start. It is those with unrealistic expectations who find the disadvantages of their move outweigh the advantages, and careful briefing before they move, could solve much of this, especially for those who have never had a house before. An alternative to this would be an initial visit within the first two weeks to give to give the tenant information & see her attitude, perhaps suggest things she could do in the community while she is still busy with carpets, curtains, etc. , Followed by a 2- or 3-months- Later visit, to see how she is settling.

Don Drive, Craigshill, Livingston (Livingston Development
Corporation Collection)

I have been in contact with a tenant who wishes to create  arrangements for travel and baby-sitting for all the students in the Walks area – when established, however, his organisation would not be limited to students, and perhaps this could be a prototype for tenant-groups elsewhere.


1.       Dogs. These animals were reported to be running round in packs, frightening children and tearing up gardens. It was suggested that a dog-catcher be appointed. Perhaps this could be taken up with the local authorities.
2.       Telephone Kiosks. Feeling about permanently “out of order” Kiosks is running high. At a cost of £30 installation, not many people can cope with this expense on moving into a new house, and a large number of tenants have elderly relatives in Glasgow with whom they wish to keep in contact.
3.       Bin-rooms in the walks-type buildings. Many tenants complained about these being inside the building – the smell in summer and the possibility of disease .

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