It is perhaps appropriate that a consultation event on property factoring in Glasgow should resemble nothing so much as a stairheid rammy. I went along out of a sense of duty: since I’d had several Shoogly whinges about factors, I thought I ought to turn up and make my voice heard when the opportunity was offered. I was not, in all honestly, expecting any drama.
And yet drama there was, when an introduction from the Factoring Commission’s unassuming Chair, Jean Charsley, was followed by a loud and sustained intervention from the floor, alleging that the Commission was packed full of factors and excluded tenants. The speaker, who turned out to be Sean Clerkin of the Glasgow Homeowners’ Campaign, kept up his shouted protests for 10-15 minutes, prompting interventions from the chair and Council staff. Eventually he left, having repeatedly alleged that democracy was being thwarted.
He undermined his own argument somewhat by the length and volume of his protest, which cut short the time available for the residents and tenants present to make their views known. However, it did prompt me to take a look at the membership of the Factoring Commission.
There are eleven members, six of whom represent housing or property organisations. Three are from Community Councils and one, Anne Flint, is listed as a Housing Consultant.
While Sean Clerkin’s voluble and verbally aggressive style of protest makes me doubt that the Glasgow Homeowners’ Campaign would have been a very constructive member of the Commission, it does seem odd that there are no representatives of tenants’ or residents’ committees.
The Commission will report early next year. We can only hope that the voices of residents, who tonight told tales of neglect, contempt and avoidance from their factors, will be reflected in its recommendations.