Glaswegians to vote on future of George Square

George Square is where people go to protest, to party, and to sit out in the sun. Picture: John Devlin
George Square is where people go to protest, to party, and to sit out in the sun. Picture: John Devlin
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Glaswegians are having a say on the future of the city’s pre-eminent public space – and the responses so far offer a fascinating snapshot of the hopes and priorities of our times.

George Square is where people go to protest, to party, and to sit out in the sun – when it comes. But a consultation that has been running throughout October points to a greener, cleaner future.

People were asked what “ambition do you have for the future of George Square?”

A website has received hundreds of public responses, which people in turn have voted for. “Pedestrianise the roads if possible! Keep the statues and improve the look of the pavements” is by far the most popular choice of the people.

Other top suggestions include “traffic free and the square made bigger” and “more trees”.

One citizen sums up the mood: “We have so much natural beauty in Scotland and it should be shown in our city centre, not just concrete.

“Take inspiration from Central Park in New York.”

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There seems to be support for keeping the square’s largely Victorian statues, but little appetite for changing its name. Paid-for events such as fairs and markets appear to be frowned upon.

“Fewer large commercial events that block off the square from citizens” is one popular suggestion. Another asked for “cafes, restaurants and bars with loads of stuff going on in the square 365 days a year, instead of it just being a glorified roundabout”.

One response that has gathered wide support is for a greater Gaelic presence in George Square.

“A Fàilte gu Glaschu/Welcome to Glasgow sign to reflect the importance of Gaelic to the city,” says one citizen.

Inevitably, and in true Glaswegian fashion, not all the responses are serious.

“Replace all the statues with new marble statues of Margaret Thatcher,” offers one citizen.

Other ideas, more tongue-in-cheek than in earnest, are for a “helter-skelter” and a tram to be built around the square.

Neil Fergusson is a consultant who has been working on the consultation process.

“People have previously felt passionately about George Square,” he said. “This is a conversation about what should happen with it and an opportunity for people to really express what they feel.”

A council spokesman said: “What is important is that after the council considers the results of this engagement, Glasgow gets the George Square it wants and deserves.”