Red Road film will tell Glasgow’s story
Developing opening and closing ceremonies for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games which genuinely reflect 21st-century Glasgow and Scotland has involved considered debate and many conversations across a wide range of people over the past couple of years.
Jackie Kemp’s article, “Blown away by Red Road demolition” (Perspective, 9 April), offers a welcome contribution to that discourse.
While most of the stories and ideas that will form part of the ceremonies are still to be revealed, it has been important that the inclusion of the demolition of five Red Road blocks was one of the first to be shared.
The blocks have been scheduled for demolition since 2008. Demolition contractors GHA will manage the demolition, safely and securely as they have demonstrated on many occasions.
And along the way GHA will engage with local residents to ensure they are informed and supported.
This is the “business as usual” approach – safe, respectful, considerate, low key.
But we felt there could be more – that bringing the Red Road story into the opening ceremony was an opportunity to commemorate an important part of Glasgow’s social history in an unique and powerful way.
This is not a story being created especially for the Games; it is a story in its own right and part of the ongoing regeneration of social housing in Glasgow.
Glasgow 2014 and our Games partners remain committed to ensuring this important story is part of the opening ceremony.
Everyone involved in bringing this idea to life appreciates deeply that many people have powerful opinions of Red Road – a good many formed by living there.
To that end we will strive to ensure plans for the Ceremonies are properly represented and we welcome engagement with people on this issue.
We recognise the passion people feel for Glasgow and respect the wide range of views being expressed. Red Road is by no means the only story we will be telling. Nor has it ever been proposed as an alternative to a finale firework celebration.
But, 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.
In 1960 I entered HM Dockyard Rosyth as a craft apprentice and while there was exposed to asbestos, which was used just about everywhere, in the buildings to insulate the steam heating pipes, on the ships for the same purpose but also as an additive to the cement that was applied to the steel decks of the accommodation spaces.
As it was the biggest industrial employer in Scotland at the time, with 7,000 employees, many of those working there were left with pleural plaques (scar tissue on the pleura lining the lungs), which can develop into asbestosis, mesothelioma, or lung cancer.
Sadly, many of my peers have died of these diseases.
Back in the early 1960s we were not aware of the dangers of asbestos, but since learning of them and seeing their tragic effect on friends and loved ones, I am perhaps more conscious than most of its presence in the environment and it was this awareness that alarmed me when I found out that “Artex”, the decoration applied to roofs as a plaster, contained asbestos up until the 1970s when it was banned.
Armed with this knowledge I am always alarmed when I see tower blocks being demolished by explosives on TV news broadcasts.
The spectacular collapse of 20- and 30-storey buildings is always accompanied by a massive dust cloud that takes some time to subside and then is disturbed for weeks, months afterwards as mechanical loaders dump it into tipper trucks and transport it through our towns to landfill sites where again the dust is released into the atmosphere.
Has every bit of decorative Artexing been removed from the Red Road flats?
Just what do people behind the plans to demolish of the Red Road flats at the Commonwealth Games think people around the Commonwealth will make of such a crass and idiotic idea?
People in Nigeria, Nepal and New Zealand have no idea of any significance that these redundant structures might have, let alone what they have to do with them or a worldwide sporting event.
But wait, maybe this is cunning plan by the Better Together campaign to show that when you leave the Scots alone to do anything they can make complete fools of themselves.
David J Mackenzie