A THREE-PART documentary series is to highlight the impact of the Commonwealth Games on communities in the east end of Glasgow where homes were destroyed to make way for sports’ developments.
Stephen Bennett, a Bafta-award winning film-maker, spent five years charting the experiences of people living in Dalmarnock, where multi-storey flats were knocked down and other homes razed to accommodate new buildings, including the Athletes’ Village.
Among the people Bennett interviewed was Margaret Jaconelli, a grandmother who refused to move from her home of 35 years. She and her husband Jack were filmed as they were finally evicted from their home in Ardenlea Street. As sheriff officers battered through barricades the couple had erected, Jack can be heard shouting: “All this so a***holes can run about in shorts for two weeks.”
After seeing a preview of the programme, which begins tomorrow, Margaret, 56, said: “It is shocking and so it should be. The trauma of being thrown out of our home will never leave us.” The Jaconelli’s home was the last occupied property in the street to be removed before works began. Glasgow City Council imposed a compulsory purchase order on the couple’s property, allowing the local authority to seize the house and knock it down.
In the documentary, Margaret told Bennett: “I believe the council are stealing my home off me. I’m going to fight it.”
George Redmond, Labour councillor for Dalmarnock, also features in the programme. Asked about Jaconelli’s defiant stance, he said: “It is very difficult to represent someone when you don’t know what they want. Does she want a house? Does she want money? Does she want both? I don’t really know.”
Later, Redmond looks uncomfortable when he is upbraided by another local over the changes to the area. The man tells him: “There’s nothing here. We don’t have a shop to go to. They forget people stay here.” Redmond tells him: “It is all about managing change.” He tries to assure him there is not another part of Scotland that is benefiting from a £500 million investment.
Former shopkeeper Darren Faulds shows the programme where some of the legacy of the Games is being spent. He received compensation for three shops he owned in Dalmarnock that were demolished and spent some of the money sending his daughter to private school and paying for her piano lessons.
Bennett lived with the Jaconellis during the countdown to their eviction began, including the moment when the electricity supply was switched off. Workmen armed with sledgehammers are also seen smashing through defences erected by Jack Jaconelli, a joiner and roofer. He told the programme: “The fort has been built – we’re waiting for the Indians to come.”
Last week, after the ticketing fiasco became the latest public relations disaster to hit the Games, Margaret said: ”What goes around, comes around … Because of the way we were treated, I’m not at all surprised bad things are happening to the Games organisers now. Maybe people will see them for what they are now.
Commonwealth City starts on BBC1 Scotland tomorrow at 10.35pm