If you would like to buy a copy of this book
click here


The People 6 - Glasgow City Council 0

In March 2001, Glasgow City Council's plan to close the Govanhill Pool complex, which lies in the one of the poorest and least healthy parts of Western Europe, was thwarted when members of the local community occupied the building, maintaining a 24 hour picket for over 6 months.

In addition to the pool occupation, direct action has been a hallmark of the campaign, including "egging" council leader Charles Gordon; closing off the road outside the pool to hold numerous street events; holding a campaign meeting inside a Police Station to protest at the alleged surveillance of campaign members; occupying GOMA [The Gallery of Modern Art]; demonstrating outside events at the City Chambers and serving an 'eviction order' on the firm of sheriff officers [bailiffs] charged with carrying out the eviction of the occupation.

The occupation ended on August 7th 2001, when sheriff officers, supported by over 250 Police, horses, dogs and a helicopter confronted hundreds of local people who had spontaneously come out onto the streets to fight for a facility at the heart of their community. Next day, the spirits of even the most ardent car hater would have been lifted by the sound of drivers sounding their horns as they crawled past the pool. Local people who had not previously been involved in the Campaign, stopped to chat to those of us who were sweeping up the debris, before pausing to shout comments such as "You should be ashamed of yourselves!" at the Police on duty. A concerted attempt to crush the spirit of resistance in a Glasgow community had become an own goal for those in remote authority, one beamed to TV screens around the world.

This Campaign, the most diverse and imaginative that many people have experienced, now has a permanent hut outside the pool and continues to fight for the re-opening and development of this facility, as well as opposing other attacks on the community. The effects of the campaign have been far reaching in terms of politicising people who would not have described themselves as 'political'. Similarly it has enabled people to make the links between the fight in our our community and the war in Afghanistan for instance and to question the system of electoral democracy [sic]. We have heard that the Campaign inspired local people in a neighbouring area to occupy a hole in the ground destined to take a mobile phone mast, with the result that it has now not been installed.

The Campaign has not been without it's difficulties, and people on the libertarian left have been at the forefront of raising questions about how decisions are made within the campaign. It has, however, been one of the most vibrant and inclusive campaigns that has happened for years in Glasgow. If we believe that people can self organise, spontaneously take collective action and be politicised by doing so, we should be encouraged by what has happened in Govanhill and despite the campaign's difficulties and challenges it presents, I have no doubt that the community in Govanhill deserves our continued support.

- Mwasafu. Visit: www.saveourpool.co.uk