Royston (Regeneration)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 24th June 2014.

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Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

I thank Bob Doris for securing this debate, which is about an important initiative in the Royston area of my Maryhill and Springburn constituency, and for highlighting many of the other good things that are happening in my constituency.

The next two years are exciting ones for Royston, with the area’s three housing associations—Spire View Housing Association, Copperworks Housing Co-operative and Blochairn Housing Association—and Rosemount Development Trust all celebrating 25 years of making a difference in their community. The famous Royston spire, which is the area’s most obvious landmark, will celebrate its 150th birthday next year and will not be forgotten in all the discussions about the area’s future.

Each of the housing associations that I mentioned has contributed to the regeneration of the area by building not just houses but warm, affordable and attractive homes. Many of the local residents and volunteers who began the process of regeneration around 25 years ago are, to their great credit, still involved. We owe them and the staff who support them a real debt of gratitude.

Similarly, Rosemount Development Trust has worked hard to preserve some notable buildings in the area and to provide premises to encourage businesses into Royston and employment opportunities for local people. Royston Youth Action provides support and activity for the young and not so young alike. Many other organisations operate in the area, of course, including Glasgow Housing Association and Toonspeak Young People’s Theatre, of which I am a patron. Therefore, I have an interest.

The fact that many of those organisations have significant anniversaries in the next few years has been the catalyst for co-ordinated community celebration, as the motion describes, and has spurred the organisations to think about what should happen next—what is needed to continue the regeneration of the area and how that should be taken forward.

As we have heard, a strategy group has been formed to discuss the changes that the community would like and to drive forward the required development. Spire View Housing Association has already commissioned a consultation exercise on community facilities. That work will influence the strategy group, which will no doubt want to carry out wider consultation before proceeding. However, it is fair to say that some ideas and themes are already beginning to emerge. Bob Doris rightly referred to the need for more shops in the area, and there is general support for the idea of better community facilities. That on-going discussion will be informed by the consultation that Spire View has already set in train.

Ironically for a community that is surrounded by a motorway, Royston can feel a little isolated. Better bus services and the reinstatement of the train line that once served the area have been suggested and are areas in which the Scottish Government might use its power and influence to bring about change and to help link Royston to neighbouring communities.

Mention has been made of the need to ensure the involvement of Glasgow City Council. I very much agree with that—so much so that I wrote to the council leader, Councillor Matheson, to ask him for the council’s co-operation. I am pleased to tell the Parliament that he responded positively, saying:

“I have instructed council officers to work with the Strategy Group to help deliver these aims. I understand that there has already been dialogue between the Strategy Group and senior officers and I hope that this will serve as a foundation upon which a suitable action plan can be constructed.”

I am sure that Councillor Matheson’s assurance of the council’s support will be very welcome.

As my time is limited, I will draw to a close, but first I will make two brief points. The first is that, in 2022, Royston can, if it chooses, commemorate the 80th anniversary of the controversial decision in 1942 to change the area’s name from the Garngad to Royston. Incidentally, that was ironically an initiative of the local headmaster and was opposed by local councillors. To people of my parents’ and grandparents’ generation, it always remained and will always be the Garngad. Would it not be appropriate to commemorate that change in the area’s name with meaningful physical change, building on the excellent work of the many community organisations that work so hard for the area?

My second point is that, as the surrounding multistorey flats are demolished at Forge Street and Rosemount Street and at Sighthill and Red Road, the skyline of the north of the city is beginning to change. Soon, Royston will once again enjoy the prominent position in the cityscape that it had for most of its 500-year history. In so many ways, this is the perfect time to look to continue the regeneration of Royston and, by working together, to help retain the sense of community that has always made Royston such a vibrant place in which to live and work.