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Ferguslie Park Housing Association (FPHA) is an independent community-based housing association governed by a volunteer management committee, many of whom are our customers. We are a registered social landlord and a society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. We have been a registered Scottish Charity since 2003 and do not distribute our surpluses, but rather, we reinvest these for the benefit of our current and future customers. We currently employ 15 permanent staff members. We have one wholly-owned subsidiary, the New Tannahill Centre Ltd. It is also a registered Scottish Charity and is run by a committee of volunteers. Together we form The Ferguslie Group.
THE FERGUSLIE GROUP
FPHA acts as the parent organisation in The Ferguslie Group of companies. We have a formal independence agreement which sets out our relationship with our subsidiary and reinforces our responsibility for overall strategic direction and control for the Group. We each employ our own staff and are reviewing a service sharing agreement with our subsidiary which allows it to draw on our staff in accordance with agreed work plans. Along with our subsidiary, we seek to make a positive contribution to the Group’s core purpose, namely:-
Ferguslie Park was built as a council housing estate, from shortly before the Second World War and expanding until the 1950s. Ferguslie Park became a working class neighbourhood in the west end of Paisley, with residents working mainly in the huge Chrysler car plant in neighbouring Linwood, the nearby Stobo carpet factory and making textiles in the Ferguslie Mills . The demise of the car factory has been commemorated in The Proclaimers' reference to "Linwood no more" in their hit song "Letter from America". Ferguslie had its own artists too. John Byrne lived in Ferguslie Park and his "Slab Boys Trilogy" of plays features rebellious carpet factory workers from the 1950s to the 1970s. The closure of traditional textile and manufacturing industries in the '70s and '80s led to widespread unemployment, poverty and stigma. Even so, Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan had success in the '70s with their band Stealers Wheel and their album covers, including "Ferguslie Park", were designs by John Byrne. Rafferty went on to great commercial success, including with "Baker Street". But Ferguslie Park continued to slide. Renfrewshire Council made many attempts to stem the growing unpopularity of the estate which was almost cut off from the rest of Paisley, intensifying its reputation as a no-go-area.
Ferguslie Park Housing Association was established in 1988 but we can trace our origins back a few years earlier to when our predecessors, Dalskeith Housing Co-operative and Westburn Woodvale Housing Association, were established. The Co-op was set up to acquire and improve homes from Renfrewshire Council. The Co-op and Westburn Woodvale Housing Association also began to build new homes. They combined, as part of the widest-ranging strategy to date, to regenerate Ferguslie Park. This was the New Life for Urban Scotland programme, in which Ferguslie Park was one of four areas facing deprivation which were identified for a new multi-agency and innovative area-based approach. FPHA was a partner in the Ferguslie Park Partnership; with the community, the council, Scottish Executive, health board and police. Significant progress was made in replacing unpopular council housing with new association homes, improving the remaining popular council homes, introducing owner occupation and shared ownership, building a new link road and improving the environment. The Tannahill Centre was built and John Byrne opened the new Community Library.
Late in 1994 Paisley suffered extensive and serious flooding. Ferguslie Park, being flat and low lying, experienced the most property damage. 250 homes were flooded; 100 of these so seriously that residents had to move out for around a year while they were repaired. Just before Christmas, this made national news. Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip visited Ferguslie Park the following summer to meet people who had been affected and to see the on-going repairs. This restricted sites for further house building. The Association built a pumping station in the lowest part of the area to help protect it should a similar event happen again.
From 1996 Ferguslie became part of the Paisley Social Inclusion Partnership. We became a founder member of FLAIR, the federation of local associations in Renfrewshire, set up to foster collaboration in the social inclusion partnership area, benchmarking and wider regeneration activity. FLAIR brought Youthbuild to Scotland – a ground-breaking partnership with Barnardo's supporting unemployed young people into construction apprenticeships in our house building projects. In 2006 we formed a Group with the New Tannahill Centre Ltd as our subsidiary. This was so we could combine our regeneration activities. For over 30 years, we have played a key role in the regeneration of Ferguslie Park, responding to the needs of the local community and the opportunities available for significant investment into the area. This has involved us in a range of high-profile programmes, many of which were trailblazing but some were ultimately short-lived. Housing has been transformed, there are low levels of crime and there is a strong community spirit. However, it has been much harder to improve health, educational attainment and to tackle poverty. The local primary schools remain well regarded and highly valued in the community but Ferguslie pupils still mostly underachieve at secondary schools. It is poor health and stubborn unemployment that distinguishes a few "datazones" in Ferguslie Park as repeatedly suffering the most deprivation in Scotland.
However, we are preparing Ferguslie Park Housing Association for what we believe will be a new and successful chapter in its history. This business plan recognises our key role in improving Ferguslie Park, our determination to increase our impact and our plans for delivering it.
OUR TRACK RECORD
As part of the partnership initiatives, the association and Renfrewshire Council embarked on a significant demolition and new build programme and as a consequence of this, today less than 8% of all our homes comprise of the pre-existing tenements and flats.
Although we have not built any new homes for a few years now, we have been able to increase the number of homes we own and manage by working with Renfrewshire Council to transfer vacant properties in the area to us. Most recently we took ownership of and refurbished 15 properties in Blackstoun Oval which brought our total number of homes to 803.
We have always been keen to be more than just a landlord and have delivered a diverse range of wider role and community engagement projects over the years. This work was significantly strengthened when we took over the management of the Tannahill Centre in 2006, re-launching it as the New Tannahill Centre Ltd, a subsidiary of the housing association. Our own offices are in the Centre and together with our local partners we have maintained the centre as a local hub for the delivery of a wide range of commercial and community services.
We have continued to respond to the needs of the local community and have developed new projects and services as needed. One of the most significant of these was when we decided in 2013 to establish our own welfare rights team. This team continues to manage a busy caseload helping to sustain tenancies and support our tenants to deal with the consequences of Welfare Reform.
Over the years we also sought to develop the capacity and competence of the organisation investing in our people, technology and systems. Much of this work was recognised when we were awarded Silver accreditation from Investors in People in 2014.
More recently we embarked on a major review of our governance and financial management arrangements. An independent review carried out by the association identified weaknesses and the Scottish Housing Regulator subsequently appointed a Manager and three members to the management committee. With this assistance, our management committee went on to commission further investigations. The committee approved and adopted a comprehensive Governance Improvement Plan in June 2016, designed to strengthen a number of critical business areas across the group structure. We have significantly improved our policies and processes and have enhanced our management reporting systems. We have strengthened our audit arrangements and have introduced a more robust framework for identifying and managing risk. We have reviewed our asset management plans and associated budgets.
We have also recognised that our operational approaches need to be significantly improved – to meet current standards and best practice, and to respond more specifically to the needs of our tenants. The committee approved a Corporate Action Plan which has already resulted in changes in senior staff, additional skilled resources at operational level and has re-established a partnership commitment to our key stakeholders such as Renfrewshire Council, Community Groups, the Tannahill Centre and FLAIR.
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