THE Glasgow 2014 chief executive has indicated that the Commonwealth Games authority will press ahead with the controversial demolition of the Red Road tower blocks in the opening ceremony, despite growing opposition to the move.
In a letter published in The Scotsman today, David Grevemberg said he recognised the passion stirred up by the issue and respected the views beingexpressed.
But he said that bringing the “Red Road story” into the ceremony would commemorate Glasgow’s social history in “a unique and powerful way”.
Around 13,500 people have signed a petition objecting to plans for five tower blocks to be demolished “live” during the opening ceremony.
Those against the plan argue the destruction of the 30-storey 1960s blocks is “insensitive” to former residents and the asylum seekers living in the remaining sixth block, which is to be destroyed at a later date.
Earlier this week, the chairman of the Games organising committee, Lord Smith of Kelvin, revealed that his team was “looking at” the plans in the wake of the controversy.
Mr Grevemberg’s letter reaffirmed Glasgow 2014’s vision that the inclusion of the tower blocks would be a bold commitment to regeneration.
“While most of the ideas that will form the ceremonies are still to be revealed, it has been important that the inclusion of the demolition of the Red Road blocks was one of the first to be shared,” the Games chief wrote. “Glasgow 2014 and our Games partners remain committed to ensuring this important story is part of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.
“Everyone involved in bringing this idea to life appreciates deeply that many people have powerful opinions of Red Road.
“To that end we will strive to ensure plans for the ceremonies are properly represented and we welcome engagement with people on this issue.”
He added: “By dedicating just a few moments of the ceremony to the extraordinary story of Red Road it is our ambition to depict Glasgow as a brave, confident and great city that is confronting the need for change.”
On Tuesday, protesters will meet with Glasgow 2014 board member Bridget McConnell to discuss their concerns. Carolyn Leckie, the former Socialist MSP and one of the driving forces behind the petition, said she welcomed the chance to speak with those running the event. She said: “I don’t imagine the organisers want to be in the position where this goes ahead and continues to cause division and we get ourselves in a situation where half the crowd are jeering rather than cheering.”
Len Bunton, son of the Red Road architect Sam Bunton, yesterday wrote to Lord Smith to reiterate his opposition.
Lord Smith had appeared to leave the door open for a change of heart on the decision when he told The Scotsman he was “awaiting the outcome of various deliberations”.
Mr Bunton said: “A decision has got to be taken, but it is not clear who is making these decisions. One thing that disturbs me greatly is that there doesn’t appear to have been any consultation on this. If that had been done six months ago, we would not be in this mess.”
Mr Bunton said that he had also written to Scottish ministers and the Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson.
He added: “Nobody is coming back and saying we are talking about this. Even though there are now nearly 13,500 people who think it is daft.”
David Mundell MP, the Scottish Office minister, said there “clearly is scope for misinterpretation” in the timing of the demolition, and that will be why Games chiefs are carefully considering the move.