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"Green Glasgow" looks at housing problems

Glasgow, which has been described as the "friendly city" and the "dear green place," has had a bout of introspection after hosting one of the most important European conferences on the urban economy since the end of World War II.

Almost unscathed by that war's severe bombing raids on nearby Clydebank, this city of 800,000 people has been showing local officials, university tutors, social workers, and business people from Turin, Cologne, Cracow, Dresden, Vienna , and Paris how it has progressed in tackling the problem of being the worst-housed municipality in Western Europe.

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The second most populated city in the old British Empire after London, Glasgow has drastically reduced its peak population of more than 1 million by a policy of "overspill" to new towns like East Kilbride, Irvine, Livingston, Cumbernauld, and Glenrothes.

The city has also lost a considerable number of citizens through emigration to England, the Commonwealth countries, the United States, and South Africa. During this exodous, Glasgow has had to deal with the vast physical problem of rehousing-80,000 families living in slums: build huge municipal housing projects and road networks (including the Clyde Tunnel and modernized subway); and generally try to improve social conditions in a climate of severe economic recession and postwar decline in the city's traditional industries.

But partly because of its long experience in operating community welfare services, the city has been able to sustain itself despite its enormous social and economic problems.

Unlike Liverpool and parts of London, Glasgow has had no riots connected with unemployment. (It was part of the "Red Clydeside" period in the prewar period before 1939 and notorious for gang warfare in the 1930s.) Glasgow has no race problem, but the amount of jobless teen-agers and adults is clearly worrying the authorities.

Many of the representatives attending the recent European cities' study project have been looking at ways Glasgow has tried to make itself more attractive to overseas investors. Turin Project International, which was established in the United Nations' Conference in Vancouver, 1976, and in the Conference of Mayors of Major World Cities in Milan-Turin, 1978, chose Glasgow for the subject of Enterprise and Democracy in Urban Europe. "Making the City Work" broght together many European urban economists and sociologists to discuss common problems and a joint search for a solution to the many difficulties facing people looking for jobs, better housing, and adequate social amenities.

This city also is where the Children's Panel system has been operating for 10 years an informal method of dealing with delinquent youngsters which has attracted considerable attention in the US.

The Turin conference organizers expect to continue these European discussions on cities over the next few years.

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