We hope everyone enjoyed their day at the Empty Homes Conference yesterday. It was a fantastic day with loads of excellent discussion about many aspects of our work. It was great to see everyone so engaged in the afternoon discussion too, so much so that we almost forgot to wrap the session up. One of the highlights of the day was finding out that the American poet and author Edgar Allen Poe lived in Irvine for two years. Thanks to Barry from Homes for Good for sharing this info and you are all welcome to impress your friends with that bit of trivia.
Of course the awards took place during the morning session, being announced and presented by the Housing Minister Kevin Stewart, MSP, and a hearty congratulations goes to all the winners. Every one of them is thoroughly deserved! Congratulations also goes to all the award finalists, the high quality of these entries made all the awards very difficult to choose.
Those winners were:
Outstanding Individual: Murdo Macleod, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Murdo started in October 2018 and in his first year has brought 61 properties back into use. Murdo's highly proactive approach to casework and knowledge of renovation has proved highly effective in this area.
Outstanding Service: Housing Services Private Sector Team, North Ayrshire Council
The panel were delighted by the progress that North Ayrshire has made in the last 3 years, with a cumulative total of 462 empty homes brought back into use since 2016. In their own words; "The entire team are dedicated, enthusiastic, hardworking individuals however work fantastically well as a close-knit unit too. They have excellent people skills and continually go above and beyond in order to get the best result for our owners, landlords and tenants."
Best Collaborative Project: Campbeltown tenement, Argyll & Bute Council
This is the fourth such project to fall under the Campbeltown Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme and the largest to date. The panel were impressed by the scope of the regeneration and the impact that it had on the town centre in a busy rural town.
Oldest Long Term Empty: Gardner Street, Glasgow City Council
This property was empty for 24 years, longer than any other nominee, but the panel were also impressed by the lengths involved in bringing it back into use, which involved partnership working with Fraser & Fraser and Auction House Scotland.
Best Before & After Photograph: Main Street, Glasgow City Council
This was an extremely difficult category for the panel to pick a winner from, with 16 nominations in total. The winner, again from Glasgow, impressed the panel by the simplicity of the photos, which clearly demonstrated the transformation of a highly visible property on a busy road.
Once again, congratulations to all the award winners. Many thanks too, to all those who took the time to nominate. These awards are dependent on you taking the time to do so, which is greatly appreciated by everyone at the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, as are all the efforts made by the Empty Homes Officer Network all year round. We know there will be many more examples of outstanding work both within local authorities and involving other organisations that we don't always get to hear about.
We hope to see you all again next year to celebrate another year of amazing Empty Homes achievements.