Glasgow 2014: Red Road U-turn caused by protest fears

media captionFive of the six remaining blocks were to have been demolished - with the sixth being occupied by asylum seekers

Plans to blow up five tower blocks as part of the Commonwealth Games were abandoned over fears protesters would threaten safety and security, the chief executive of Glasgow 2014 has said.

David Grevemberg also denied that the idea to demolish the Red Road flats during the opening ceremony had been crass or insensitive.

More than 17,000 people signed an online petition against the demolition.

Organisers decided on Sunday to scrap the plan to demolish the blocks.

They had wanted to bring down five of the six remaining Red Road tower blocks in a 15-second segment that would have been broadcast live to a giant screen at the Celtic Park opening ceremony, and to millions of TV viewers around the world.

But critics argued it was insensitive to former residents and to the asylum seekers who occupy the sixth block.

image captionGlasgow 2014 chief executive David Grevemberg said that safety was a priority

Speaking on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Grevemberg said that safety was a priority, and the plan had been abandoned following discussions with Police Scotland.

He said: "The nature of some of the debate and discussion, and also some of the opposition to these ideas, certainly became very, very focused.

"We made a very, very clear assessment over the past few days of where that was going, with our partners, and had recommendations from Police Scotland that the nature of some of that opposition would make this not a commemorative event but would start moving this on to a potential protest.

"That is not what the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games is about and it is something that we needed to reconsider and our board yesterday made a decision.

"There were some very strong opinions that were showcased and that changes the conversation dramatically, and obviously from that standpoint we needed to listen."

'Move forward'

When asked whether organisers had made a "major miscalculation" by not anticipating that people might see the demolition as being crass, he said it had been intended as a "commemorative event" rather than a "celebration".

Mr Grevemberg was also asked whether he now regretted the idea.

He said: "You know I think, speaking of journeys and destinations, it has caused a lot of conversation which is probably very necessary conversation as well, irrespective of the Games itself.

"So from that standpoint I would hope that at this point people use this energy and power to support the Games and that we can all move forward."

Mr Grevemberg said no objections to the demolition had been raised while the plans were being drawn up.

And he said organisers would find "other ways" of telling the story of Glasgow's regeneration during the opening event.

"We want to delight people and we want people to be really engaged around this and I really am confident that this was one part of the ceremony," he added.

"There's lots of parts to the ceremony and I feel very confident that people are going to enjoy this and its going to be a great moment."

Former Scottish Socialist MSP Carolyn Leckie, who began a public petition against the demolition, welcomed the proposals being scrapped.

She told BBC Scotland: "It's the right decision and I think it should be welcomed that they have been prepared to change their minds, no matter what has prompted them to change their minds."

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