This year marks the 80th anniversary of Greater Pollok in Glasgow - the community I have proudly represented for the last five years.
Pollok was the first of the big four peripheral housing estates built in the city. The project was a bold blueprint for the future of social housing and was closely linked to the burgeoning garden city model. The aim was to build a community, not just houses.
However time and resources quickly grew scarce. Despite the success of the Pollok plan, it was high-rise and high density housing that became the norm, and that would eventually herald in an era of decline in Glasgow’s four main schemes.
But Pollok is a place that I and many others are proud to call home. It’s a unique community, where connections run deep, with neighbourhoods of undeniable strength of character and an enviable community spirit that celebrates diversity, progress and cohesion, and which likewise tackles its social problems head-on.
The people of Pollok are engaged. Their minds and imaginations have been sparked by the local conversations that I have been leading about what our community will look like in the next 20 years.
Building on these conversations, I have worked with the community to support the foundation of ‘Pollok 80/20’, a new community organisation to celebrate Pollok’s past and to start the work of thinking about our future.
We want to take greater advantage of the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment legislation, including opportunities for community ownership, asset transfer and community choices budgeting.
Community Empowerment gives Pollok a platform to remember the people and places that have shaped our community, to celebrate its heritage, protect and enhance its green spaces and to begin a community-led dialogue about our future.
We will create a 20-year vision for Pollok which will allow the community more say on future development and regeneration within the area. We have a strong focus on fair and inclusive economic growth, with greater prospect for local employment to help address long-standing issues with poverty and inequalities within the area.
These ideas have shaped the SNP’s plans for Glasgow and will help deliver a revolution in community empowerment for the neighbourhoods of our city. One of our most significant manifesto pledges is to devolve at least £1 million to every council ward, to be spent on local needs.
That represents more than £20 million being invested in Glasgow’s communities to deliver real, long term and positive change in local neighbourhoods.
We know that the days of top-down local government control must end, and all of our councillors will be proper community champions and facilitators of change. But that change will be driven forward by communities. We know from our experience in Pollok that change takes people, not just politicians. The people who live in Pollok are the ones best equipped to move our community forward.
We should all commit to learn from Pollok and to put communities and those who live in them at the heart of all we do to build a better, fairer, more equal future.
David McDonald is SNP candidate for Glasgow City Council in Greater Pollok ward.
Read Glasgow SNP’s manifesto here.