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Glasgow's George Square furore reignites

The controversy surrounding Glasgow’s George Square overhaul has ignited again, this time over the timescale for any future revamp

Last month Glasgow City Council decided to scrap a high-profile international competition to mastermind a £15 million overhaul of George Square for a scaled-back, in-house refurbishment which could be delivered in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

However, according to The Herald, sources within the local authority claimed there was ‘an increasing likelihood of little, if anything, changing in Glasgow’s main civic space by next summer amid concerns of the durability of a new surface, timescales and engineering headaches thrown up by the square’s slope’.

In response, the council insisted some work would be carried out over the next year. A spokesman said: ‘We are currently examining options to establish a design for the refurbishment of George Square. However, it is clear that the red tarmac will be replaced before Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.’

Meanwhile John McAslan, who won the original contest before the plug was pulled, met with local people yesterday morning (18 February) to discuss any future development of the square, promising to pass on the findings to council leader Gordon Matheson.

In the coming weeks, McAslan will be meeting Matheson, who effectively spelled the end for the contest after disagreeing with the other judges (AJ 28.01.2013).

McAslan said: ‘What I want to happen now is for something positive to emerge for George Square. I can’t think of any other way of achieving this than by keeping the dialogue going. If people forget about it, that’s when nothing happens.

‘The people in Glasgow are a vociferous bunch – they have a view on everything. That’s what makes this project so exciting.’

He added: ‘We are not looking to persuade anyone our scheme is the right solution. What is important is to keep the process alive.  We didn’t refer to our design.

‘The world is littered with competitions that go awry – this situation is not unique to Glasgow. But I’m trying to keep the process going. I wouldn’t be doing it unless I felt strongly about it. I’m from Glasgow and I’m at a point in my career when I can take the initiative and hopefully something positive can emerge.

‘There was a wide range of views but everyone there agreed something must happen with the square. There was a general opinion that the extent of the landscaping should be returned to the region of that in 1870s.

‘Almost everybody agreed that the pink tarmac should be replaced, but not one felt that all the sculptures had to be retained.

‘There was however a strong feeling that it should be kept a civic rather than a commercial space.’

‘We agreed to circulate what was discussed to see if it accurately reflected what was said then we will take it to councillor Matheson.

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