Locals banned from homes after art school blaze threaten legal action

Business owners and residents gather to protest at the lack of access to their properties since last month's Glasgow School of Art fire in the historic Mackintosh Building in Glasgow.
Business owners and residents gather to protest at the lack of access to their properties since last month's Glasgow School of Art fire in the historic Mackintosh Building in Glasgow.
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Residents who have been unable to go back to their homes since the fire at Glasgow School of Art more than two months ago are threatening legal action against the city council.

Lawyers claim homeowners and businesses have been unable to enter their properties for nearly ten weeks – not even to collect passports, car keys or medicines.

Govan Law Centre said it was hoping to identify public interest litigation against Glasgow City Council.

The council said it was acting in accordance with the law to protect people’s lives.

The Art School’s Mackintosh building was badly damaged by a fire in June, undoing a multimillion pound restoration carried out after another blaze four years earlier.

Lawyers said local residents and businesses were the “lifeblood” of Sauchiehall Street and Garnethill, and had been treated “abysmally”.

The city council is responsible for risk assessment, the safety cordon and building control management. Lawyers said residents had asked if they could return for ten-minute visits in order to pick up important items, but had been refused.

Mike Dailly, of Govan Law Centre, said: “Thirty-three households are displaced from their homes in Garnethill. Fifty-five Sauchiehall Street businesses – with 350 jobs – are under serious threat of going bust. All of these people are the lifeblood of the local community and they have been treated as an afterthought by Glasgow City Council.

“Glasgow City Council senior officers, Glasgow School of Art and privileged elites appear more interested in saving the Mackintosh building than saving the community of Sauchiehall Street and Garnethill, which have been around a lot longer and are a special part of our city’s heritage.”

Mr Dailly said local businesses were suffering as a result of the cordon and had lost trust that the local authority was putting their needs first.

He added: “Glasgow City Council cannot abrogate or evade their statutory building control duties and allow the Glasgow School of Art to put its own interests before local people. Local residents have a legal right of respect for their home and family. Businesses are entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions. The local authority exposes itself to judicial review and claims it places the interests of Glasgow School of Art before the community, and GLC will explore every avenue of challenge available to the local community”.

The renovated Mackintosh library had been due to open next year.

The blaze also spread to nearby buildings, including the Campus nightclub and O2 ABC music venue, which suffered “extensive damage”.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “The council has acted under Section 29 of the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 in order to protect life. Our priority remains getting residents and businesses back to their property safely.”