Games over for the Red Road blast

PROTESTERS and politicians today welcomed the decision to scrap the demolition of the Red Road flats as part of the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.

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Red Road flats' demolition was originally not planned to take until 2017 but GHA had agreed to bring it forward to July 23, the 2014 Games' opening
Red Road flats' demolition was originally not planned to take until 2017 but GHA had agreed to bring it forward to July 23, the 2014 Games' opening

Games bosses yesterday announced they had pulled the plug on plans to demolish five tower blocks amid "safety and security" fears and after a public outcry.

Deputy Chief Constable Steve Allen said that because of these concerns, he asked the chairman of the Glasgow 2014 board to reconsider the plan.

With 100 days to go until the Games, chief executive David Grevemberg said the decision was taken after opinions were expressed that "change the safety and security context".

Although he did not give details, some families living near the demolition site had vowed not to leave the blast zone in protest at the proposals.

More than 17,000 signatories to an online petition against the demolition were still celebrating the plans being scrapped.

Former Scottish Socialist MSP Carolyn Leckie, who set up the petition, said she was "extremely pleased" about the decision.

She said: "I think it's great - it's a sensible decision. It's an indication that people power can be effective and maybe highlights that in Scotland we can look forward to a more participative democracy."

Opponents had described the plans as "insensitive" to ex-residents and to asylum -seekers living in a sixth block.

Alec Forbes, 59, who opposed the idea, said: "Not only was the idea crass, but it is embarrassing to think blowing up the Red Road flats was the best Glasgow could come up with."

ONE local woman, who did not wish to be named, said: "I find it a bit worrying that the plan was announced before organisers were sure it was totally safe."

Robert Florence, a writer and actor from Glasgow, said "sense prevailed".

He added: "Great news that the Red Road flats demolition is removed from the Opening Ceremony."

Local Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson, who grew up in the Red Road flats, also voiced relief the plan had been scrapped. She said: "It was becoming increasingly clear that it would be extremely difficult to ensure that the proposal could go forward in a way that would guarantee the safety of my constituents."

Security Director for the Games, DCC Allen, said: "Police Scotland support for this element of the Games was based upon an environment in which the plan had widespread public support.

"Since that announcement, it became clear that the plan generated a range of strong opinions which changed the safety and security context.

"I asked the chairman of the Board to reconsider its decision in order to take account of the resources and scale of the operation that would now be required, and one which would be out of proportion to the friendly atmosphere sought by the Board for the Commonwealth Games."

Five of the Red Road blocks were to be brought down during the Games opening ceremony on July 23. Organisers had planned to beam the footage to the ceremony at Celtic Park and to an estimated global TV audience of more than one billion.

Mr Grevemberg said in a statement: "We made it clear from the outset the absolute priority was safety and that this event would only happen during the Opening Ceremony if it was safe to do so.

"Over the past few days it has become clear that opinions have been expressed which change the safety and security context.

"Glasgow 2014, Games partners and key stakeholders, including Police Scotland and Glasgow Housing Association, are not prepared to allow what was proposed to be a positive act of commemoration to create risk for all concerned, including the communities of north-east Glasgow."

Mr Grevemberg said the demolition of the Red Road blocks - originally planned to take until 2017 - is a matter for the GHA and will take place as part of their regeneration programme.

He added: "It remains our intention to dedicate an element within the ceremony to telling the story of Glasgow's social history and regeneration."

First Minister Alex Salmond also welcomed the move and said it was "a sensible decision".

Meanwhile, his party colleague Bob Doris, an SNP MSP who lives in north Glasgow, said: "This is the correct decision. I am absolutely delighted the organisers have listened to the overwhelming will of the people of Glasgow on this."

The Red Road flats were built in the mid 1960s and the original eight tower blocks were home to more than 4000 people.

Games bosses confirmed the demolitions will now be rescheduled.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: "We support the organising committee's decision. Public safety must always be paramount on these occasions.

"We will be working with the organising committee to ensure the city's ongoing regeneration is reflected in the opening ceremony."

rebecca.gray@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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