Letter: They need help, not barbed wire

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The Independent Online
IN HIS column on 21 December, Neal Ascherson attributes remarks to me that I never made. He says I proposed that problem tenants should be segregated and forcibly resettled in special ghetto estates, surrounded by wire fencing and controlled by security guards. That is nonsense.

As I dictate this letter I have the transcripts of the comments I made in the television programme Frontline Scotland. I certainly referred to the ghetto in terms of those people who should, in my opinion, be marginalised, but at the end of the programme I suggested that society would have to look at models such as the Dundee Model where we try and rehabilitate people back into mainstream housing.

I definitely did not make any comment which envisaged wire fences or security guards. What I have done is to open up the debate on what we do with people who are unable to sustain a tenancy.

As convener of housing in Glasgow, I visited a hostel here a week ago where young men have been accommodated who, in the opinion of the housing department, are unable to sustain a tenancy. There they are given every assistance by the housing department and the social work department to learn to budget properly and look after themselves. I see no reason why we should not apply the same principle to families who have equal difficulties. This is the hope I hold out for the future, not the vision referred to in this article of ghettos out of control.

The views I have expressed are my own. It will be up to me to convince my colleagues that this particular problem has to be tackled in this way. In my opinion, unless we do tackle it, the costs will far outweigh those of trying to assist people to behave in a reasonable manner, which is all that is asked of them.

James McCarron