Mixed reaction to demolition plan for opening ceremony

THE opening ceremony of Glasgow's Commonwealth Games will change the city's skyline forever.

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Demolition of the flats has met with a mixed response
Demolition of the flats has met with a mixed response

But news that five of the six Red Road flats will come down during the launch of the Games has been met with a mixed response.

As told in last night's Evening Times, city bosses have announced that the famous flats will be blown down during the ceremony.

Once the tallest residential structures in Europe, the five tower blocks will take just 15 seconds to fall.

MSP for the area, Patricia Ferguson, grew up in the Red Road flats.

She is unsure if she will attend the event as, she said, the event may prove too emotional.

Patricia said: "It's fair to say I'm still trying to get my head around the whole idea. It's certainly bold.

"I think it's interesting that creative minds have thought that this is the way they would want to weave the history of Glasgow into the Games.

"For many of my constituents the question will be, 'how do we now look to the future?'

"My focus now is on ensuring that all of my constituents have the best possible chance to enjoy the opening of the Games - and an equal chance between them all."

Commonwealth chiefs claim the move, which will be broadcast live on TV to an audience of more than one billion, will represent a positive future for Glasgow.

The dramatic announcement yesterday morning came at an event at the city's People's Palace hosted by broadcaster Janice Forsyth, and attended by residents of the flats.

Eulaliah Stewart, of local group Alive and Kicking, said: "We just got the information today that the flats are going to be coming down in July.

"It's going to be sad for all our people that they are going. Alive and Kicking has been here for 25 years so we are connected to the flats and it really will be sad to see them come down.

"Now we're concerned about what's happening to our building as we'll be quite isolated when the flats are gone.

"We haven't heard anything yet but our hope is that we will be left here and our building fully refurbished."

The blowdown in July will be the biggest demolition of its kind ever seen in Europe.

It will be beamed live into Celtic Park on a 100m-wide screen, occupying the south stand of the stadium.

Local residents living in 887 homes near the Red Road site will be temporarily evacuated during the event.

They will be invited to join in the Commonwealth Games opening celebrations, either at the Commonwealth Games Live Event at Glasgow Green or at local venues open to them throughout the evacuation period.

Dr Bridget McConnell, Chief Executive of Glasgow Life, revealed that her father had helped build the 30-storey flats in Petershill.

She said: "We've been working for the last six years with former Red Road residents to hear their stories about their lives in their community and what it means to them.

"The results of that are proudly shown in an exhibition at the People's Palace and online. We want those stories and those voices to be part of the narrative we share when Glasgow is on a global stage. It would be easy to talk about everything that's shiny and new, but that wouldn't be authentic and would be deeply disrespectful of the people from Red Road and communities like them."

The blocks, owned by GHA, were originally due to be demolished over the next two years.

However, GHA wanted to bring down all five down at once to minimise the number of times residents have to be evacuated.

One block - 33 Petershill Court - is currently used to house asylum seekers and will come down at a later date. The blocks will be brought down using more than 1250kg of explosives though experts Safedem emphasised safety is a main priority.

Robert Tamburrini, chief executive of NG Homes, the main landlord in the community, said: "The Red Road flats have been a part of the North Glasgow community for many years and while their demolition is the end of an era it's also a new beginning.

"Many of the tenants who lived in the flats now live in our new-build properties, so while the buildings may be going, the community is still thriving."

Council leader Gordon Matheson added: "This is about more than creating an iconic moment for the opening ceremony; it is about the next step in the regeneration of one of Glasgow's most famous communities.

"It symbolises the changing face of Glasgow over the years and puts Red Road at the heart of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

"Red Road is part of the very fabric of our city. It is a place where dreams were made and families built their lives.

"It has always retained that strong sense of community and that will live on through the regeneration of the area for years to come.

"This will be a moment that will capture the hearts and minds of former residents living near and far. The demolition of the flats will mark a spectacular end to high-rise living in the area.

"Over a 10-year period around 600 new family homes will have been built in and around the Red Road area as part of an £80million regeneration initiative.

"This will mark the end of Red Road as we know it. Going are the high-rise flats and in their place is a new community of low-rise family homes, symbolising the regeneration of our city."

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