Glasgow & West Scotland

Glasgow 2014: Organisers in talks over tower explosions

Red Road flats Image copyright Glasgow 2014
Image caption The 30-storey Red Road flats were built in Glasgow between 1964 and 1969

Talks are to be held next week over controversial plans to demolish Glasgow tower blocks as part of the city's Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.

More than 12,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the plan to blow up five of the six remaining Red Road flats to be dropped.

Opponents believe the towers should be brought down with "dignity" and not as part of an entertainment spectacle.

Organisers plans to show the demolition live at the Celtic Park opening event.

A spokesman for Games organiser, Glasgow 2014, said a meeting would be held next week with former Scottish Socialist MSP, Carolyn Leckie, who launched the petition.

'Important point'

"A wide range of opinions have been expressed about this element of the opening ceremony," he said.

"We welcome the opportunity to discuss our plans with Ms Leckie and the meeting will be arranged in the coming days.

"At the meeting we will share more about the context and importance of Red Road's role within the ceremony."

Image copyright Glasgow 2014
Image caption The demolition will be shown live on a 100-ft wide screen at the Celtic Park opening ceremony

The spokesman added: "We want the story of Glasgow and Scotland to be real and authentic and reflecting the lives and history of communities such as Red Road, especially at such an important point in their regeneration."

'Engage with people'

A separate statement from the organisers of Glasgow 2014 reiterated their view that they would listen to public opinion and said that they would be further information released on how the proposed demolitions fit into the overall opening ceremony.

The statement read: "Glasgow 2014 and Games Partners remain committed to ensuring the important story of Red Road is part of the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.

"We recognise the passion people feel for Glasgow and respect the wide range of views being expressed on how the city is represented in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games.

"We are working to ensure plans for the Ceremonies are properly represented and we are reviewing how we can best engage with people on this issue.

"The Ceremonies create a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share positive aspects of city and national life with a global audience. Over coming weeks we look forward to sharing further details of the variety of different stories our Ceremonies will tell."

Gone in 15 seconds

Eight tower blocks were built in the mid 1960s as part of the Red Road development.

They were once the highest flats in Europe and housed more than 4,000 people.

Two have since been demolished by the social housing landlord, Glasgow Housing Association.

The organisation planned to bring five more down as part of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on 23 July.

One tower block, which is currently used by asylum seekers, would remain.

The contractor Safedem planned to use more than 1250kg of explosives to bring the five tower blocks down simultaneously in about 15 seconds.

The demolition would be beamed back live to a huge 100m-wide screen at the Celtic Park ceremony and shown to a television audience of millions of people.

As part of the operation almost 900 surrounding homes would be evacuated, with an exclusion zone put in place around the entire site.

Games organisers said the demolition would be a "symbolic" event signalling urban regeneration in Glasgow, but opponents believe it is ill-conceived and insensitive.

In her petition, which is addressed to the Scottish government, Glasgow City Council and the Commonwealth Games Committee, Ms Leckie outlined a number of reasons for the demolition to be dropped from the ceremony.

Regeneration by destruction

The petition states: "Many people are dismayed by this proposal.

"The reasons are many: the disrespect displayed by blowing up homes for entertainment; the mixed and complex message of 'regeneration' by destruction; the insult to the families remaining in the sixth block; the disruption to families and the city at the time of a huge event; the uncertainty around safety in the context of such a big demolition project; the additional pressure placed on public services when the city will be welcoming thousands of international visitors."

The petition concludes: "Please reconsider. By listening to people, you will earn much respect."

The view that the plan should be reconsidered by Glasgow 2014 organisers was also echoed by a UK government minister.

Meanwhile, David Mundell, the Conservative Scotland Office minister, said that the linking of the two events could be "misinterpreted."

Although he said it was ultimately a decision for the organising committee and the city of Glasgow, he added that rather than being seen "as a positive" the event "could be seen as a negative" and said that would be part of any "reconsideration" of the proposal.

David Grevemberg, chief executive of Glasgow 2014, said: "The decision to include Red Road in the Opening Ceremony is new territory but it reflects our ambition to depict Glasgow as a brave, confident and great city."

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