Inquiry call over George Square revamp U-turn

OPPOSITION parties have called for spending watchdog Audit Scotland to investigate the George Square U-turn.

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Gordon Matheson faces questions after the George Square plan was scrapped
Gordon Matheson faces questions after the George Square plan was scrapped

As reported in the Evening Times, Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson pulled the plug on plans for a £15million makeover of the square, despite a winning design being chosen in a high profile competition.

It is estimated that the decision not to press ahead with the upgrade project has cost £100,000.

The 'winning' architect, Glasgow-born John McAslan of John McAslan & Partners, is to stage a one-man fightback in the city today.

He will be in the square from around 1.30pm to talk to any members of the public interested in improving the civic space.

Political rivals say Mr Matheson dumped the redevelopment after his preferred design option did not win.

Tory councillor David Meikle said: "It's now proper that this is investigated and Audit Scotland may be the most appropriate body to look at it."

Graeme Hendry, leader of the SNP opposition in Glasgow, said: "Councillor Matheson was obsessed with turning George Square into his own personal legacy and showed no regard for the public or taxpayers' money.

"It would now seem that once it became clear the panel didn't support him, he threw the whole project out in an act of petulance.

"Councillor Matheson's waste of over £100,000 is a matter I would expect to require further investigation."

The council launched an international design competition in September to find a new vision for the square.

It attracted 35 entries, six of which were shortlisted in November.

On January 9, when the designs went on display at the Lighthouse centre in Glasgow, Mr Matheson insisted the public were behind the changes, including a controversial plan to remove the square's historic statues.

However, when Mr McAslan's design was finally named the winner, Mr Matheson made a very public U-turn, claiming public opinion had led him to scrap the project in favour of a smaller scale upgrade in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Mr McAslan insisted that his design delivered what the public wanted by removing the red tarmac and keeping the statues and greenery.

However, he said that had been lost in the way Mr Matheson had "undermined" the competition.

Mr McAslan said: "He's undermined the whole competition, he's undermined his officers, he's undermined the judges, he's undermined the people who submitted designs."

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