Glasgow 2014: Living in the shadow of the Commonwealth Games

Emirates Arena

The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is four months away but long after the top athletes, the media and the dignitaries have gone - what will the games mean for the people of who live in its shadow?

In a special series of reports, BBC Scotland Commonwealth Games reporter Lisa Summers has been looking at the impact the Games is having on Glasgow's east end.

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"I think this will be the best thing that ever happened for Glasgow," says Grace Donald as she looks out of her first-floor window towards the National Hockey Centre on Glasgow Green.

Grace will be 90 years old on the day of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony (23 July). She has lived in the Bridgeton area of the city all her life.

"I've never been so happy in my whole life, that it's changed in the east end, you know, for Bridgeton, Calton and Dalmarnock.

"All the different things being built, venues have been so good and to get all the houses built for them, it'll make such a difference," she says.

A new, smooth, road divides Bridgeton from neighbouring Dalmarnock - pleasingly it is pot-hole free.

Many a taxi driver has remarked that they find it hard to recognise where they are. The impressive Chris Hoy Velodrome and the Emirates Arena are ahead.

Athletes village

To the right, is Springfield Road where despite closed gates and tall wooden boarding you can clearly see the Athletes Village - fresh, pristine, curling around the river Clyde.

It awaits the arrival of the 6,500 athletes and officials who will stay here during the Games, after which a "retro-fit" will turn it into a community of 700 family homes and flats.

There are offices, business parks springing up and land to be remediated to encourage private investment.

The cost of this transformation is, of course, high.

The Games may be costing £500m to put on, but behind the scenes the money being spent to create lasting change is more than £1bn.

Clyde Gateway, the regeneration company set up in 2007 to instigate this change, says it has a 20-year plan:

  • Create 20,000 jobs
  • Bring in 20,000 people to the area
  • Build 10,000 new homes by 2028

Chief executive Ian Manson says: "We've already attracted substantial public sector money to do the groundwork, to make the area attractive to private investment, but already private sector investment is coming into the area.

"Really the people we have to convince is the private sector - to create the offices, the factories and the places where local people can work."

And there are already some success stories.

Samantha Maxwell, who is 22, recently secured a job at the Velodrome, a direct result of the Games coming to town.

velodrome

But she says it could have been a very different story: "When I was younger I was just a pure problem child. Didn't listen to my mum and dad, dogging school, drinking every weekend with pals, just getting a laugh."

Samantha's mum died before she turned her life around, but she says her mother would be proud of where she is now.

And she is grateful of the opportunities that have come hand-in-hand with the Commonwealth Games.

It is the biggest regeneration project ever undertaken in Scotland, and comes with bold claims, but the starting point is one of multi-deprivation.

Life expectancy in Calton, Dalmarnock and Bridgeton, the key regeneration sites is amongst the lowest, not just in Scotland but Europe. So as change arrives, progress will have to be measured for a long time after the Commonweath Games has gone.

On Wednesday, Lisa will take a look at those whose experience of the Games has not been a good one.

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