Minister backs demolition during Games ceremony

THE Scottish Government has backed the plans to demolish Red Road tower blocks during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony as "bold and dramatic".

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Commonwealth Games Minister Shona Robison's statement is the first time a minister has spoken about the plans since the decision was announced last week.

It follows Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson's defence of the plans last week.

Games organisers have insisted the demolition will go ahead as planned and Ms Robison's statement now shows all the partners in the Games are behind the idea.

Ministers, including First Minister Alex Salmond, were told of the idea in February and again at the last meeting of the 2014 strategic Group on April 1.

It is understood no concerns were raised about the idea and residents were told by letter a week later.

Ms Robison said: "The proposals for the Red Road flats will mark a dramatic start to the Games, within the opening ceremony.

"While the format of the opening ceremony is a matter for the Organising Committee, as part of the Games Strategic Group, I believe that the proposals symbolise a bold statement of intent on the power of the Games to be a catalyst for regeneration and positive change.

"For many people, these Games are more than sport, they are a chance for regeneration, renewal and having better places to live and work.

"The Red Road element is just one part of a two-hour ceremony that will show-case Scotland to a global audience of more than one billion people."

Five of the six remaining tower blocks in the famous housing scheme in the north east of the city will be brought down as part of an opening ceremony to highlight the regeneration of Glasgow and the role of recent and ongoing social housing improvements.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Games Partners and the Glasgow 2014 Board have received regular updates of the concepts and content of the Glasgow 2014 cere-monies as they have been developed.

"Both the First Minister and the Commonwealth Games Minister were informally briefed on the outline concept of the Red Road element to the opening ceremony in February 2014 and were made aware of the operational aspects of the idea through the Strategic Group meeting on 1 April."

stewart.paterson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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