Obituary: Ann Scott: Founder member of Govanhill Housing Association and stalwart of the community controlled housing movement
Govanhill Housing Association is sad to announce the death of dedicated committee member Ann Scott following a short illness.
Ann was born in Westmoreland Street in the Govanhill area of Glasgow, where she spent her early life, attending Annette Street Primary and Strathbungo Secondary schools.
Ann was one of a number of local residents who were concerned about Glasgow’s 1950s/60s policy of large scale demolitions of slum housing, which dispersed inner city communities to a new generation of council houses on the outskirts of the city.
By the early 1970s housing in the Gorbals had been decimated, and the slum clearances were creeping into Govanhill. Ann believed passionately in saving the tenements and community where she grew up, and the wider area.
Ann, alongside a number of others such as Betty Stevenson and Joan Laing, began holding meetings in each other’s homes, and thus formed what would eventually become Govanhill Housing Association.
This was facilitated by new legislation and funding structures which had finally caught up with the need to deal with sub-tolerable tenement housing. The local authority acquired powers to declare housing action areas for Improvement, and grants became available to buy and refurbish tenement housing.
Ann’s membership number of the Association was number 9, and she was a reliable presence on the management committee for over 40 years - always acting in the best interests of the Association, with a forthright enthusiasm and a keen eye for detail. She was infamous for her adherence to the rules of grammar and punctuation. Ann scrutinised every paper she received with a trademark rigour, no doubt developed throughout her career working in administration for the Police, Glasgow City Council and what was then the Glasgow Health Board.
Ann was the heart and soul of the Association; as many have remarked, she was “in there with the bricks”. Always a passionate advocate of the community controlled housing movement, Ann in many ways acted as the conscience of Govanhill Housing Association, strongly believing in decent, affordable housing for all. This was reflected in her disappointment when government support for comprehensive tenement improvement came to an end in the early 2000s. Ann saw how this withdrawal of funding contributed to major structural changes in Govanhill’s housing stock, along with decreasing home-ownership and the rapid growth of private landlordism.
Latterly, Ann was pleased to see improvements begin to be made in the area where she grew up, through the South-West Govanhill Property Acquisition and Repair Programme to buy, improve and repair some of the worst quality housing in the area.
As well as being a stalwart of Govanhill HA, Ann also served on the committee of Thenue Housing Association in the East End of the city, where she gave 25 years of her invaluable time and experience.
Ann always welcomed new people who came on to the committees in which she was involved, ever ready to share her advice, experience and knowledge.
In addition to her housing commitments, Ann was also a Brownie Leader, taught evening classes at Langside College, and played the piano at Abbottsford Chalmers Church. She took great pleasure in becoming an Aunt, a Great Aunt and eventually a Great Great Aunt – particularly in being able to share her passion for classical music, theatre and ballet with her nieces.
In her later years Ann lived in the Association’s Jamieson Court Sheltered Housing Complex, which she first visited in 1985 before it opened. Like many others she jokingly picked out her future flat – not knowing that one day she would be living there and be secretary of the residents’ group.
In 2015 Ann shared her memories on the 30th Anniversary of Jamieson Court, including her thoughts on the changing nature of the area:
“Govanhill has always had a changing population with, initially, Highlanders speaking Gaelic, Irish people speaking their own Gaelic, and Jewish people speaking Yiddish. Then Asians settled in the 1950s and 60s and now we have Eastern Europeans moving into the area. They will soon integrate into the community as have those coming before them. I am proud to say I’m from Govanhill!”
Ann was a steadfast, reliable, principled lady who gave countless hours of her time and energy to the community in which she lived. She will be greatly missed.
Ann’s funeral will take place at Linn Crematorium on Wednesday the 14th of November at 10am.