Thursday, 26 May 2016

4,000 objections force Public Hearing for parking around Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital

An independent Reporter will hold a Public Hearing next Thursday and Friday in Govan’s Pearce Institute to consider Glasgow City Council’s proposals for a “shared parking” scheme in neighbourhoods surrounding the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEU). G51 Group objectors will be represented by Govan Law Centre's Mike Dailly.

GCC limited parking spaces within QEU to 3500 spaces – most of these for out-patients and visitors. This forced the 10,000 hospital workers onto the streets around the hospital. As a result local residents are unable to find parking in streets where they live. 18 months ago, GCC proposed a “shared parking” scheme for the area with parking meters on all streets.
Local residents rejected the GCC proposals with almost 4,000 objection letters being sent to the Council.  They formed the G51 Free Parking Group who submitted their alternative parking scheme supported by the community to the Council. The community believe that only the G51 parking scheme would effectively give priority to residents for parking in G51 area.

Locals are incensed that the GCC scheme means that visitors to residents, including unpaid carers, would need to pay for parking on every visit.  Local Shops who rely on “passing trade” also want the G51 alternative scheme to retain parking for their customers, and to avoid shop workers being charged £700 each year to park at their work.
G51 Residents also object to being asked to pay for the GCC parking scheme – when they had never been consulted on the development of the QEU and its parking provision.  GCC claimed that their “Fastlink” buses would be used by hospital workers in preference to their cars. However “Fastlink” buses ran empty, and it is understood the main operator has now withdrawn the service.

The G51 Group are sympathetic to parking problems of hospital workers and have argued for massive increase in car parking at QEU. – and in longer term – for improvements in Road infrastructure – including on/off ramps from M8 at the Hardgate Rd. end of hospital.
The G51 Group’s alternative scheme would be a fraction of the cost of installing the GCC proposals (GCC’s estimated cost of installing their parking scheme is £350,000). Local councillors, MSPs and Chris Stevens MP have all given their backing for the G51 alternative scheme.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

57% of housing debt in Glasgow represented by Govan Law Centre under Financial Inclusion Partnership

New figures for Glasgow's Financial Inclusion Partnership in 2015/16 confirm that Partnership advice agencies managed almost £10m of housing debt for clients across the City. Of that total, Govan Law Centre (GLC) managed 57% of all housing debt in the City (homeowners and tenants) for its clients - £5,478,711 of an overall City-wide figure of £9,674,675 in 2015/16.

GLC Prevention of Homelessness Project "Rights Hubs" (funded by the Oak Foundation and working within various NHS locations across the City) prevented almost 1,000 clients from being made homeless.  In 2015/16, we opened 798 new "Type 3" defended court cases with several thousand court appearances in Glasgow, and 1,166 "Type 2" cases (requiring a file to be opened with assistance via correspondence, telephone and e-mail).

GLC also operates a variety of other services in Scotland, including our national Education Law Unit (which includes specialist Scotland-wide services for children and young person with additional support needs, including our Let's Talk national support ASN tribunal service with Kindred Advocacy), our specialist services at Govanhill Law Centre, our partnership Ayrshire Homelessness and Prevention Service with CHAP, a partnership project with Children 1st, and our Public Interest Litigation Unit.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

GLC recruitment: vacancy for a Solicitor (Education Law Unit)

GLC recruitment: Solicitor (Education Law Unit)

GLC’s renowned Education Law Unit is looking for a solicitor to assist in the delivery of the ELU project objectives.  The post is full-time, and funding is in place until 31 March 2019. Competitive salary offered.

This position would be suitable for a solicitor who is dedicated and enthusiastic and wishes to join a progressive Law Centre to assist in the delivery and expansion of this Scotland wide project. As training will be provided, this could suit a recently/newly qualified solicitor who has an interest in Law Centre and Education work. The post is based in Orkney Street, Govan but some travel within Scotland will be required.

If you consider you are suitable for this position, please submit your CV together with an accompanying letter explaining your suitability and motivation for the post to Candy Walker, Service Manager, Govan Law Centre, Orkney Street Enterprise Centre, 18-20 Orkney Street, Glasgow G51 2BZ or by e-mail to cwalker@ by 12 NOON on Friday 13th May 2016. Any applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Govan Law Centre secures homes for 198 rough sleepers at the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter

A detailed report on Govan Law Centre's (GLC) partnership work with the Glasgow City Mission's Winter Night Shelter is currently being prepared but we are in a position to release some key statistics. 

GLC's Prevention of Homelessness Project's Senior Manager, Alastair Sharp said:  "From 3 December 2015 to 31 March 2016, Govan Law Centre provided legal advice and representation and housing and homelessness case work support to homeless persons though two weekly 'Rights Hubs' at the Winter Shelter each week".

"Our legal interventions resulted in 198 rough sleepers in Glasgow securing homes through statutory homelessness services; we wrote over 200 letters for clients (with additional follow-up casework work for many clients) and undertook 32 Rights Hubs averaging 3.5 hours per session. We initiated proceedings in six Judicial Reviews at the Court of Session in Edinburgh securing accommodation and good outcomes for all of our clients".

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Preventing people sleeping rough on the streets of Glasgow

Lorna Walker and Wendy Malloy 
Lorna Walker, Senior Solicitor at Govan Law Centre's Prevention of Homelessness Project explains how our partnership work with Glasgow City Mission's Glasgow Winter Night Shelter has helped prevent people sleeping rough on the streets of Glasgow.

Most people are aware of the statistics that are thrown about regarding homeless people and rough sleepers in Glasgow; and although the statistics often shock us, we soon forget, because at the end of the day it is just a number.
I had the privilege of being involved as the solicitor from Govan Law Centre along with our prevention of homelessness caseworker Wendy Malloy at the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter outreach hub. This gave us the opportunity to offer legal advice to people who were using the Winter Night Shelter.

Although Govan Law Centre's Prevention of Homelessness Team is involved in a number of outreach hubs across Glasgow, being welcomed into an environment where people have literally just woken up from sleeping on a mattress on the floor, instead of the streets is a whole new level. 
Throughout our time at the Winter Night Shelter we attended every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 3rd December 2015 to 31st March 2016 and we met with 10-15 people each week. Every week we threatened Glasgow City Council with numerous judicial reviews if our clients were not accommodated and often we had to start legal proceedings.

Unfortunately our final week at the shelter was no different, we were just as busy. We had to start legal proceedings for three of our clients, two of which were offered accommodation after we secured legal aid for them and they were accommodated before the Winter Night Shelter closed. However, one client was fleeing severe violence from another area in Scotland and he was not accommodated and, in fact, no homeless application was taken by the homelessness service - a clear breach of their statutory duties - and resulting in our client having to sleep rough on the streets of Glasgow all weekend until 5th April.
The Housing (Scotland) 1987 Act is well written and often the law is on the side of homeless people, but unfortunately despite our client presenting on several occasions to different casework teams across Glasgow a homeless application was still not taken by the council. We supported our client by providing numerous letters, emails and phone calls to homeless caseworkers, team leaders and Glasgow City Council’s solicitor demanding that they meet their statutory duty, which was clearly outlined to them in all our correspondence. Furthermore, our client worked closely with the Simon Community's Street Team who often attended with him to the council's homelessness casework teams.

We insisted that they take a homeless application and accommodate our client on a temporary basis while a full investigation is undertaken as per the law. The council failed to offer temporary accommodation to our client. This resulted in a significant deterioration in our client’s mental health which resulted in him self-medicating by using drugs as a coping mechanism.
Glasgow City Council repeatedly failed to meet their legal obligation in terms of the 1987 Act and the Scottish Government Code of Guidance on Homelessness. Firstly they failed to take a homeless application. Secondly, they failed to provide temporary accommodation. Thirdly, they failed to carry out full and proper investigation, and fourthly provide a right of review.
It then became necessary to instruct Mike Dailly, Solicitor Advocate and Principal Solicitor to draft a Petition for Judicial Review to be lodged in the Court of Session urgently. Once we sent it to our Edinburgh agents, the Council fulfilled its statutory duty and temporary accommodation was provided to our client whilst they investigated the matter fully. Legally, this should have been done when our client presented in the first instance.
Sadly this case is not unique and we have a high volume of casework to prove this. We are deeply concerned about the people that do not get the same support and are ignored. It was fortunate we were in the position to meet this young man at the Winter Night Shelter outreach and ensure he had his legal rights protected. We are aware more people need to be helped in this way.

We will continue to work hard to ensure the council fulfil their duty to people affected by homelessness; but with such well written homeless legislation, it is devastating that our intervention is even necessary. For many reasons, people are not aware of their rights, their mental and physical health deteriorates and their circumstances often become life threatening. Often this leads to lack of self- worth and low self- esteem and often people get ‘lost’ out in the cold (literally) without any support.