Red Road Demolition Scrapped

13 April 2014, 23:33 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

Plans to demolish iconic city tower blocks as part of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony have been scrapped.

Glasgow 2014 chiefs had intended to blow down five of the six remaining 1960s Red Road flats at the July 23 event, with the footage beamed into the Celtic Park ceremony and to an estimated global TV audience of more than one billion people.

Organisers said the plan, unveiled on April 3, would commemorate an important part of the city's social history.

But it attracted fierce opposion from critics who said it was insensitive to former residents and to the asylum seekers who occupy the sixth block. An online petition calling for the plans to be dropped attracted thousands of signatures.

In a statement, Glasgow 2014 Chief Executive David Grevemberg said: "The demolition of Red Road will now not feature as part of the opening ceremony.''

Mr Grevemberg said the decision was taken after opinions were expressed which "change the safety and security context''.

While he did not give details, recent reports had suggested that some families living near the demolition site were vowing not to leave the blast zone in protest at the proposals.

The chief executive said safety was the authorities' key priority.

He said: "The decision to feature the live demolition of five Red Road blocks within the opening ceremony was planned both as commemoration of a part of Glasgow's social history as well as a statement of the city's regeneration.

"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 (GHA), 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.''

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

“(Monday) marks 100 days to go until the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.

"We will unveil the Glasgow 2014 medals, the greatest prize for athletes of the Commonwealth. This is a day of excitement and anticipation for each one of the 4,500 athletes of the Commonwealth who will come to Glasgow in just 12 weeks' time to compete for gold and glory.''

Police Scotland DCC Steve Allen, Security Director for the Games said: "I note the decision taken today by the Glasgow 2014 Board to no longer proceed with the demolition of the Red Road flats during the opening ceremony of the Games.

"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."