Double Standards in Dalmarnock Evictions
On Friday August 21st, those Dalmarnock homeowners and shop-owners in the way of development for the Commonwealth Games Village will be made homeless through eviction orders by Glasgow City Council. No compensation price for their properties has been agreed – never mind paid.
Despite repeated attempts by the property owners, the Council have refused to negotiate with them, instead placing a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the properties which gives the Council legal entitlement to evict the property owners.
Margaret Jaconelli, the last resident in the area (whose plight we’ve covered before) now has nowhere to live as of Friday 20th August, and no capacity to purchase other housing. Several shop owners in the area will also lose their jobs and livelihoods – with no compensation immediately forthcoming to set up anything new.
All this anguish could have been avoided, but the Council has refused to negotiate all along, even when everybody wanted out a long time ago so that it did not come to this. The Council has acted disgracefully in refusing to negotiate a reasonable deal with the individual property-owners.
Compare this nightmare scenario to the hugely profitable land deal done between wealthy Mayfair property developer Charles Price and the City Council. Price bought a parcel of land in Dalmarnock for £8 million in the period 2002-2005. The land also lies on a site earmarked for the Commonwealth Games Village and is likewise deemed essential for the Games development.
The City Council had it within their powers to perform a Compulsory Purchase Order on Price’s land, but instead negotiated with Price (a process denied to Margaret Jaconelli and the other shopkeepers) resulting in a fantastically generous £17 million sale of the land – with £3 million added VAT. A total cost of £20 million pounds of public money.
In a time of economic recession and plummeting land prices, this price is excessive to say the least: £9 million profit for doing absolutely nothing but sitting on well-placed land.
A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said that compulsory purchase powers were not used against Price’s company because officials had been able to agree a deal with him. Negotiation, however, was denied to Margaret Jaconelli and the Dalmarnock shopkeepers, and homelessness and closed businesses could well be the result.
Price has argued that he didn’t know the site he bought would later be developed for the Games Village. This claim seems remarkably economical with the truth. In fact, Price’s PPD consortium was one of two bidders for the construction of the Games Village site, and it is hugely unlikely that a consortium of that scale including leading architectural firms, and real estate advisors wouldn’t know about such a significant development. More likely, they bought the land knowing that its monopoly value would increase enormously with the pressure of the Games.
What a disgrace that the City Council can’t find time to negotiate a fair deal with working-class people in Dalmarnock who are now facing appalling living conditions, and a deeply uncertain future, yet find the time and money to negotiate an outrageous £9 million profit for a City-based property speculator.
Margaret Jaconelli is staying put (in ever deteriorating conditions) in the hope that the Council will finally act decently. As a matter of urgency, we call on the Council to pay out what is due to those residents and shopkeepers facing eviction – anything else is morally reprehensible.