Deprevation case study: Ferguslie Park, Paisley

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TAM Pentland, a heavily tattooed former biker, stands in the back garden of his semi-detached council house, gives a long sigh, and points to his kitchen window.

“Two years it’s been like that,” he shakes his head, pointing to the boarded up space. “Nobody will do anything about it, and I had to board it myself. The front panel in my living room is smashed too.”

The 44-year-old was born and raised in Ferguslie Park housing estate perched on the northwestern edge of Paisley. Erected in 1926, the cluster of residential streets enjoyed its halcyon days in the 1950s, home to families nourished by vibrant textile and manufacturing industries.

The former chief executive of RBS, Fred Goodwin, was born here, but while he managed to navigate his way to a brighter, more prosperous future, generations have been forced to endure a painful and all too familiar demise.

History, after all, is repeating itself. Six years ago, the then Scottish Executive declared the area the most deprived in Scotland, sparking a debate amongst civic leaders about how best to lead the area into a brighter future.

But such initiatives have been ongoing for four decades, spanning community development projects which began in 1972, through to the New Life for Urban Scotland scheme in the late 1980s and millions committed by Renfrewshire Council to new community facilities since the turn of the millennium.

The legacy of investment is evident in the form of barren, overgrown grassland where dilapidated tenements once stood, and a cluster of newer houses in the winding, deserted streets surrounding Tannahill Avenue and Ferguslie Park Avenue.

Yet the windows and doors of dozens of homes are covered with ugly, metal grilles to ward off vandals, the contractors responsible for such work out in force yesterday, with a mobile CCTV on patrol nearby.

If progress has been made, it is insufficient. Mr Pentland’s son, Thomas, lives in a house riddled with damp after it was flooded, and is equally critical of the inertia of authorities.

“There’s houses in my street with no central heating,” the 22-year-old says. “The whole place is a total tip, it’s a sad, sad state.”

The wait for change goes on, but Thomas hopes above all else that another generation of the Pentlands will be spared the despair of Feegie. “I’ve just a wean, and I really don’t want to bring her up here,” he explains. “But everyone wants to move out of here.”