Community activism caused change of mind

When I came here first, the [Edinburgh] Evening News had a bad view of Wester Hailes. They wanted to portray it as the cesspit, if you like, of the suburban area and I think the work that I did as community activism, because of the dedication we had at that time, we forced the Edinburgh council to change their mind. When I was in Clovenstone, there was a central area of flats and there was three or four storeys, and when that was knocked down, the people who lived in that area where dispersed around Edinburgh. And because of my community work, I was very friendly with the local bobby. And he told me: “Since they cleared that area, crime in Wester Hailes had gone down by 18 per cent”.  So I think what the government and Council did, was to have all the crooks, criminals and druggies and bung them in one area. So the police knew where they were. They knew where they all lived and would go and say, lets check this lot before we go any where else to find out the culprit, you know.

But, since that was cleared and a lot of new houses have been built round about. Brand new dwellings were built about and now a lot of people are attracted to come into Wester Hailes from outside. Before then there would be a long waiting list of people wanting to leave Wester Hailes to relocate to other areas of Edinburgh. Now there is a long list waiting to come into Wester Hailes. You see, the new dwellings built by Prospect Housing, I was told that 70 per cent was taken by local residents. Because the mortgage that was offered by the local housing was cheaper than the Council rent. That’s the thing. If they offer houses that people can afford, they can take them. And there has not been any problem in these areas since these houses were built. No graffiti, no drugs, no problem. I found out that since we moved here, at least, 16 to 18 cars would be parked out there. And we are here now, 8 years in May, last month, and there has not been one car vandalised, stolen or nothing. To me, that is a plus mark for the area and for Wester Hailes. I am quite happy to live and die here. When I first moved here, no! Because, well, it was reported in the press, your pensioners walking into the post office on a Monday were get mugged before they go to the bus stop. In the evenings you would be afraid going out in case you are attacked by drunks. I can’t remember the last time I saw a drunk in Wester Hailes.

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