Friday, 23 September 2011

Govanhill Baths meeting goes ahead!

‘Govanhill Baths for the people not for big business’

Locals and supporters of the baths in the Pandora

On 20 September 2011 Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) hosted a public meeting titled ‘The Great Deception: 10 Years of the struggle for Govanhill Baths’ in the Pandora Bar on Victoria Rd. This was attended by local residents, ex Govanhill Baths campaigners, community activists and supporters of The Merrylee Matters campaign and FRFI. Despite numerous attempts to sabotage the meeting; including ripping down posters advertising the meeting, phone calls to the venue and the appearance of two police officers; it successfully went ahead.

With further rumours of the Govanhill Baths reopening the meeting had been called to discuss and question the cosy relationship that the Govanhill Baths Community Trust (GBCT) and their Centre for Community Practice (CCP), situated on Calder Street, shares with Govanhill Housing Association (GHA), Glasgow City Council (GCC), Strathclyde Police, the Scottish government and private companies – the very bodies who brutally shut down the baths 10 years ago and have since left it to rot.

An FRFI speaker introduced the meeting calling for transparency and arguing that the present attack on living standards would produce future struggles in defence of community resources – it was therefore necessary to learn from the inspiring resistance to the closure of the baths in 2001. The example of socialist Cuba, which has successfully provided the necessary sporting and community resources for it’s people in the harshest of times, was given and the speaker was clear in stating that socialism was the only solution to the deprivation of working class people.

In the true spirit of democracy the crowd heard a local resident and ex pool campaigner describe how the campaign to reopen the baths had been highjacked by a ‘small middle class elite’ who do not represent the interests of the working class people in Govanhill. He demanded that the Govanhill Baths be re-opened with the three swimming pools it originally had; pointing out that the GBCT’s proposal for one pool was ‘inadequate’ and would not afford religious groups and the wider population the swimming rights they had previously. Recalling his time spent manning the picket during the occupation of the pool he stated; ‘i did not face mounted police charges 10 years ago and stand on the pickets to see the baths being siphoned off to private companies to be run for profit!’.

A speaker from the Merrylee Matters Campaign condemned the complicity of the GBCT in the ‘sordid social engineering exercise’ that has taken place since the baths closure; excluding working class people from the campaign. Evidencing the claims of the previous speaker, that the campaign had been highjacked, he stated that only 26 people attended the GBCT Annual General Meeting in 2011 despite Govanhill consisting of over 8,000 households and that in fact there was more people at this meeting which was questioning the role of the GBCT. Countless examples of the hypocrisy of some of the main characters involved in the GBCT were given; including Fatima ‘director of many companies’ Uygen who condemned social enterprising as a cover word for privatisation in an article printed in Variant Magazine, Issue 21, Winter 2004 and titled “A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk, along the briny beach”, and yet today is an active participant in it.

GBCT Chairman Andrew ‘golden BMW’ Johnson, who invited corrupt former Labour MSP Frank McAveety, a supporter of the closure of the baths, to open a Charity Art Auction held in the baths in March 2011 was also discussed. His attempt to slander a local resident and FRFI supporter by claiming that they had intimidated female GBCT staff when they approached the Calder St offices to ask a couple of innocent questions was repudiated and exposed. Finally the speaker, acknowledging the good work and honest intentions that many of the people who volunteer with the GBCT and other community groups have, stated that the meeting was not to personally attack individuals but to attack the GHA/GCC scheme, that the GBCT were a part of, and warned that they too would be victims in the final outcome with a socially/privately run enterprise excluding those without money.

The floor was then opened to discussion. One local female resident backed up the speakers in challenging the lack of transparency amongst these so called community groups pointing out that it was not just the GBCT that needed to be exposed but a number of groups around Govanhill. She spoke about the ‘middle class viciousness’ which she herself had faced for raising questions about these groups and their schemes (‘Southside Seeds’ was named as one of them). Another resident expanded on this point stating that the exposure of GBCT would open up a can of worms and bring into question the whole cottage industry that continues to grow off the backs of the poverty and problems of Govanhill residents (unemployment, littered streets, few community resources, racism etc). He was clear in stating that socialism was the only a way out of the ‘Govanhell’ many residents had found themselves in.

Glasgow FRFI would like to thank the Merrylee Matters campaign for speaking at the meeting and their dedicated work in exposing the dirty tricks and schemes of Govanhill Housing Association. We would also like to thank the local residents and ex Govanhill Baths campaigners who shared their experiences of the original campaign and attended the meeting. If anything was learned from the meeting it was that more discussion and action was needed on this issue. Finally we would like to note the absence of the Govanhill Baths Community Trust who had been invited along to the meeting to address the issues under discussion or as one speaker noted ‘defend the indefensible’. Glasgow FRFI and local residents were previously invited by GBCT to discuss these issues behind the closed doors of their offices but we declined stating that we thought that any issues surrounding the Govanhill Baths should be discussed in the public arena. It is after all for the people of Govanhill, those who opposed the viciousness of Glasgow’s Labour City Council and defended themselves against the brutality of Strathclyde police, to decide where the campaign to reopen the baths goes. The GBCT clearly has other ideas.

Ten years on we say no compromise with a corrupt Labour City Council or Strathclyde Police and Govanhill Housing Association who continue to deprive and harass working class people.


  1. Interesting article although i find it strange that a socialist organisation are spending it time attacking local organisation for getting off their arses and actually getting something done. this venumous attack on the liberial middle class seems strange from an organisation whose membership are predominantly middle class student
    This stuff feels like it personal attacks and has nothing to do with what is really happening in Govanhill. I will not hide behind an annonymous name My Name is Jamie Tracey a resident of Govanhill and i also work for a local youth organisation in the area. Its a bit stange that soon as bit of progrees has been acheived then FRFI come out the woodwork with a negitive perspective on the baths development where have you been in the last ten years when local people have been putting in a lot of hard work to get the baths development of the ground
    I have developed a number project with the baths trust over the past 3 years none of which has cost local residents to participate so the claims that ordinary working class people will be priced out of the baths is total scaremongering and the tactics of the right. I think its time FRFI got of the case of local organisation and focus on some of the bigger issues that are affecting our communities

  2. I note with interest, yet another insensible attempt by a paid employee and apologist for G.B.C.T. in order to justify their position in relation to the groundswell of local public dissatisfaction concerning the duplicitous and deceitful methodology currently utilised by the aforementioned in order to consolidate their well paid positions at the expense of working class citizens of govanhill.

    Rather than allow myself to be drawn into yet another vacuous semantic exercise, I would refer you to the article entitled ”THE GREAT DECEPTION” and ask yourself why there has no been attempt by the evasive Andrew Johnson to address the many pertinent concerns contained therein?

    Furthermore, this is the same individual who vociferously pursued three young supporters of F.R.F.I. at a public meeting in Govanhill on September 6th intent on provoking a physical confrontation and roundly verbally abused a15 year supporter in an aggressive and thuggish manner more commonly associated with Fascist boot boy bonhomie.

    Therefore, Mr Tracey I would respectfully suggest that in future a liberal measure of circumspection be applied to your irrational outbursts in defence of an organisation commonly considered at best to be morally bereft. While I fully appreciate your position in defence of your Pollokshields paymasters, I remain thoroughly bemused by your risible assertion that ‘progress has been achieved’ The only progress thus far discernable to the Govanhill residents is one of inexplicable cost spiralling annually out of control.

    I would also remind you Mr. Tracey, that in keeping with our progressive Socialist principle of freedom of speech, all members and associates of G.B.C.T. were cordially invited to attend a public meeting in order to debate the many pertinent issues raised in ‘THE GREAT DECEPTION’. Alas, as expected and predicted Andrew Johnson and his lackeys failed to present themselves, and despite all their aggressive posturing their non appearance merely confirms our contentions that this cabal of spineless, mealy mouthed charlatans represent only their own selfish interests and that of their political masters.

    Finally, I would remind you that despite all the dirty tricks and black propaganda deployed against us, our hastily rearranged meeting easily attracted more people than G.B.C.T.’s A.G.M . I think this tells us all we need to know about where the overall support from the working class citizens of Govanhill really belongs. As for your suggestion that the membership of F.R.F.I. are predominantly middle class, well all I can say in response is that your delusion is matched only by your ignorance.

  3. It sounds to us like a case of too close to home. Mr Tracey while we appreciate your work with youth in the area we also note your reluctance to discuss and push forward the political questions that dictate the lives of working class people in Govanhill.

    The fact that you show no reluctance in defending the GBCT, a body which shakes hands with Glasgow City Council, Strathclyde Police and Govanhill Housing Association - all thoroughly anti working class organisations - perhaps highlights where your priorities (and personal interests) lie.

    We do not have all the answers but we are committed to challenging the labour aristocrats who profit off the misery of the rest of Govanhill (with jobs, offices and perks). If we overcame this parasitic layer we could finally orgainse ourselves to challenge the ruling interests that control this country - the battle to address this local issue goes hand in hand with tackling the 'bigger issues' you mention. The Fight Is On... Dominic O'Hara - Govanhill resident.

  4. I think there may be something in these concerns about Ghill trust that do require more investigation from residents of ghill, but to be fair there needs to be a bit more substance to the claim that usage costs of the pool will be prohibitively expensive to ghill peeps. where is the evidence of that? "One can only imagine.." types of phrases - good rhetorical devices, but not a lot more than that.

    (As an aside, kids card in glasgow gets kids into swimming for free, wonder how the GBCT would undercut that?)

    Secondly, what justification is there for stating that a vocal minority clique have taken over the GCBT? Yes, it may be the same faces, but as far as i know, as a ghill resident, i can turn up to one of the meetings and become a member of the organization. Is that the case or not the case? And if it is the case, what substance is there for that charge beyond mere emotive rhetoric?

    Also, if people are free to join, would it not be better to articulate these worries within the context of the organization and have a direct impact upon the evolving strategy of the organization?

    It does seem though, to be fair, that its the same old faces involved in that mob, and to be honest, art exhibitions are not really my cup of tea when it comes to exercises for community engagement and things maybe do need to be shaken up.

    IMO though, any wee community organization has to, in the short run, negotiate itself within the political climate it finds itself in. The aim is relatively modest which is to get a swimming pool up and running. is it so terrible from that fairly limited perspective to have to build bridges with organizations that may not be at the cutting edge of the vanguard?

    This is realpoltik after all, and if the purpose is to get something like that up and running, short of a revolution, one is forced to have to dance with the devil to some extent. My worry is though if one was to retreat from an engagement with the overarching context towards a neat theoretical position then we could end up in a situation where there lies an empty building forever.

    Of course, it should be the community itself that decides what needs to be done, and this is where these concerns about how representative of the community GBCT needs to be tweaked. So what happens now?

    Damian Dempsey - ghill resident.

  5. Mr. Dempsey,

    With regard to your bemusing post 13th Oct. I assume from your lukewarm appraisal of the G.B.C.T. that you have some form of sympathy for this cabal of elitist opportunists. Therefore, I shall endeavour to address your oxymoronic commentary in order to set the record straight.

    Firstly, I note with interest your suggestion that “There may be something in these concerns about Ghill trust that do require further investigation from residents”. Indeed there is Mr. D. and perhaps I may be so bold as to suggest that your starting point for any further enquiry should begin with a cursory perusal of Ghill’s ARTICLES OF ASSOCIATION. However, you will be required to place your request in writing.
    The Ghill trust has consistently endeavoured to keep this document out of public domain, in order to deflect any form of public scrutiny, and oddly enough weasel no. 1. Andrew Johnson resigned his position as chairperson on the very day this document was procured by yours truly. Coincidence….. I think not.

    In order to demonstrate the available evidence for the proposed pricing structure I would refer you to the [minutes of initial planning meeting, 29th Feb. 2008, DRS Building, Glasgow] Article 4 paragraph 7 “Mr. McDougall stated that there was a need to look at revenue costs as well as capital costs. The project would require funding over the first five years on a reducing scale. Income generation such as pricing structures for swimming, etc. were HIGHLY RELEVANT.”…… “Nuff said doubting Thomas. As for your bitchy asides with reference to my “rhetorical devices, but not a lot more than that”. I bet you are feeling a tad sheepish now princess.

    It might interest you to know that we are eagerly awaiting the next instalment from the inimitable Roy Walsh; I believe this can sourced via the F.R.F.I. stall on Saturday between 1 and 3 outside Lidl on Victoria Road. It was my initial intention to deconstruct your commentary in its entirety, however, to do so might irreparably compromise any shred of integrity you may wish to retain. It might be an idea for future reference to undertake some research of your own before shooting from the hip
    As for me…I’m off to do something worthwhile like braid my pigtails.

  6. You've got a bit of meat to the bones now. That's nice. Might have been better to have done that in your initial ramblings lest you not be susceptible to such a charge, but you'll get there in the end, only took a month after your initial post.

    As for your paranoid assumptions regarding having sympathies towards this cabal of opportunist, the only thing i can say in response to that is 'lol'.

    As for your kind concerns for my integrity, all i can offer is my sincere thanks. Its nice to know that someone out there is high minded enough to have such a concern for peeps well being. Perhaps we could have a public meeting where you can pat my head and all those poor volunteers that work for GCBT that have been duped?

    Honestly though, sheesh, you really go for the jugular, that caustic and patronizing attitude will not get you far if you want to build relationships with people in GHill to advance those concerns. Maybe this is just the internet though, where things can get very personal, which, if that be the case, think you're gonna have to learn the basic ways of engagement on the internet. A useful way to achieve that would be to join a football forum for a month or so. The moderators will see you right. The pigtails will have to wait in the meantime.

  7. As expected and predicted you really have offered very little by way of credible response other than to once again demonstrate your own inimitable brand of petty prejudice.Perhaps you if spent less time venting your spleen on inane football forums you might be better placed to offer some relevant commentary of substance to the aforementioned debate.I'm assuming you have too much spare time on your hands? Sorry Mr D your invective is misguided.However,many thanks for the top tips concerning the dos and donts of social interaction in and around Govanhill,undoubtedly an invaluable prerequisite for future reference.

  8. Merrylee Malingerers aka MM.Middle class twats who have swallowed a couple of dictionarys,,,piss off and find some gainful employment you wasters.Politics Of Envy...Assuming you have too much time on your hands,,are you taking the piss or what...Excuse my language but im just an ordinary real working class member of the community,born and bred.

  9. Roy Walsh,,Non Govanhill Resident and Merrylee Malingerer,

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