George Square revamp plan is too rushed

GEORGE Square has acted as Glasgow's civic centre for more than 200 years.

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It has played host to Remembrance parades, pop concerts, nativity scenes, Hogmanay hoolies, Olympic hero returns and the occasional office worker feeding sandwich crusts to the local pigeon population.

George Square is a welcome open space at the centre of the city's beating heart.

But, for all that, it is currently a bland and tired looking advert for a city on the up.

So much has been done in recent years to showcase Glasgow, that it's a disgrace George Square has been neglected for so long.

Now, the city council has finally decided to rip up the nasty red tarmac it so carelessly laid down nearly 15 years ago.

But rather than learn from past mistakes, the city fathers are ploughing on without any meaningful input from the public.

Six designs have been shortlisted, but there has been little transparency about how they were chosen.

And they give little indication of the future use of the square.

If the 'new' George Square is to continue hosting open air mass gatherings, then why do designs one and three include giant water features?

If it's to honour the city's proud history, then why do some designs require the statues to be removed?

And, if it's to be a place for people to relax in, then why the conspicuous absence of seating in a number of the proposals?

Some people will like the designs, others will not. But, what is clearly wrong is the devious way in which the council has sought to minimise canvassing those opinions.

Glaswegians should have had a major say – yet they have been given just nine days to register their views before the announcement of the winner on January 18.

Instead, it will be two architects, a former art school lecturer, a concert promoter and the head of the council who will decide how £15million of public money will be spent.

A voice of sanity in this debate is my council colleague, David Meikle, who has criticised the rushed way this process has been handled.

His view that we should consider a seventh option has growing support.

It's one which would still see the hated red tarmac ripped up – but would cost less and add a softness and calm utility to the space.

He wants to see a return to a greener space – with trees, borders and grass.

And with more than a thousand people adding their support to an online petition in just a few short days it's clear the idea is finding favour with many Glaswegians too. It's a call I'm proud to support.

Local government

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