Clearing the Closes

Dangerous landings and drying areas

I used to have an old table for plants and post, a few chairs, my neighbours could use to enjoy the sun in the drying area, and a plant stand on my landing.


I live on the top floor so have tried to cheer up the heavy concrete drying area with some plants.  I have also put up new lines which my neighbours like to use for their washing.


I had dug a couple of wee beds at the bottom of the close, and planted some beans, corn, herbs and tomato, and dug over the old bed at the front which has been water-logged ever since the scaffolding for the renovation works in 2006.  Judging from the bubbles coming up in the grass, I figure the pipes are cracked.  Certainly my neighbour says he cant open his windows for the smell and flies, and although it has been reported many times, including evidence of a cracked pipe, no workers have ever come to dig up and explore.  The shrubs planted inthe area to catch the plastic bags and rubbish swept up by the wind from the saturday market all died / drowned and the council cut them down and sowed grass seed which did not take.  Even the fireweed died.


Workers told us the beds were all to be dug out for new paving to be laid, so I dug out the beans and tomatoes and moved some down to another green space and the rest up to my drying area to await replanting once the works are completed.


Shortly after, letters were posted through the door, advising tennants that all drying areas were to be cleaned the next day and for all possessions to be removed.


Well I keep my drying area pretty clean but imagining that inspections for weather proofing might be needed to be made, moved all plants onto the landing, expecting to move them right back after the work was completed.  So was very surprised to find my housing officer on the doorstep the next day demanding that I remove all furniture and items from the landing. 


I explained they were only there until the drying area work was completed, only to be informed that tennants are not allowed to keep plants and furniture in communal areas.  Apparently this presents a fire hazard, on the grounds that firemen have bulky apparatus to deal with, and may trip over anything in the smoke.  Except of course firemen are not allowed to come in through the windows anymore, so any tables and plants placed in these areas should not prove to be a hazard.  Our landing as can be seen from the images beneath are pretty big. 


It was said that tennants should read their missives.  I took missives to mean lease and checked.  Communal areas are to be kept with respect and agreement to neighbours, and not for storage, but as I pointed out most items in discussion are for decor, ie carpets to warm the landing space; tables to put flower arrangements and post to be collected; chairs and tables to put shopping bags or baskets of washing to save backache, and prevent items trailing in the dirt and wet.  Bikes and buggies are not stored so much as parked, as presumably are the cars stored or parked in the communal spaces outside.


Personally I would imagine any fireman fighting his way through the smoke would rather by far, prams, buggies and bikes in use were parked in the drying areas and landing spaces under the windows instead of flat hallways which are a tight squeeze at the best of times.


There is no downstairs storage for bikes or prams.  The back close bin areas would be ideal, for bike / buggie parking, especially if cleansing would reduce the wheelie bins stored or parked there by half, since we currently have twice as many bins as we in the block have ever used in the past five plus years.


On the Friday when we were all out and took away the neighbours' carpet and small furniture, leaving quite a lot of dust behind - I was surprised I thought they were cleaning the area


Meanwhile the bin area downstairs has still not been cleaned.   It has been reported several times over the past few years as needing a good clean.  The smell is pretty bad and the fans are constantly on which must cost a bit in electricity.  I usually clean my close but it is a bit harder to clean the bin area including the doings in the corner on the loor, which I clened up best I could, but it still needs a good scrub.  All the bins need a good sluice.  If there was a tap I would be quite happy to oblige, but carrying umpteen buckets of water down six flights, not to mention the heavy swing doors would be some task.  The area needing cleaning is quite big if you add eight or more filthy smelly wheelie bins


So now plants and seedling previously on the landing and in the drying area are now stashed around my flat, and apparently we are not going to be allowed to make new beds downstairs once the work is completed, so where they will end up is anybody's guess.   The government is supposed to be encouraging communities to take an interest in our public spaces and start growing things, within reason, and Edinburgh Community Backgreens Association are having a lot of fun growing food and plants to encourage local communities to take an interest in their own green spaces.


Manchester Council has given over land it cannot afford to maintain to local communities, meanwhile the villager in TodMorven and beyond are planting vegetables everywhere.  The nation is on the move let's hope Glasgow is not going to be left behind

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