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Headline

Glasgow academics weigh in on Red Road flats demolition

Comment

Glasgow’s City Chambers is sometimes referred to as ‘Castle Greyskull’ by the people of the city. Do a little research into the history of the city and the various shady land deals and dodgy characters that go on to progress these grandiose projects – of which there have been many over the years. This all works to the detriment of people and communities. For instance, the area Red Road is in has been in constant transition since the 1950’s – Regeneration projects that never-quite get where they’re going. This is done entirely for political gain and the generation of fat contracts for the well-connected cronies behind what seems to be an endless cycle of ‘build it up, run it doon, build it up and run it doon again’ – with the ordinary folk of Glasgow caught up like rags in the spin cycle! Sam Bunton’s generation actually came fairly close to building something good and something stable and progressive... I recall as a toddler being hoisted by my Grandfather up to the window of our tenement flat in Bucksburn Road – not half-a-mile from the Red Road Flats. Our Tenement was one of the post-war ones. – Not damp or lacking a bathroom or any other facilities. “See the skyscraper son! Look!”. Papa had lived in America for a while as a youngster and was duly impressed by this latest sign of modernity in his post-war Glasgow. In fact the war was almost two-decades past. Like most parts of war-torn Britain, Glasgow was allegedly on a journey to becoming some sort of ideal. We moved in to these symbols of modernity circa 1971... I was nine or ten when we moved into our clean, neat, warm, well-insulated flat in the Red Road. – We weren’t cleared from any slum or any such like. This was a move forward. - I went to the library and learned about Le Corbusier and the brave new world I was now a part of. By the late 70’s the Caretakers that had stewarded the flats so well in the early days were eroded to just a few men for the whole scheme. And the city council had made a particular point of seeding the area with known criminals and anti-social types. – The flats you see had been too successful! - And with there being a lot of money in poverty, it suited them to drive the scheme down. I was to serve most of my apprenticeship (as a TV news cameraman) in London, but when I returned to Glasgow in the mid 80s it was back –by choice - to The Red Road. By this time the council had been ‘called out’ by tenants on their allocation policies. And events had conspired to open part of the place to a new social-housing experiment. One block was lease to the YMCA whilst another was taken completely out of mainstream housing stock... A brief interview with a building manager saw me set up with a three-bedroom plus box-room flat in a building with private parking, carpeted foyer, full concierge service and CCTV-controlled access piped right to my telly! The Box-room became a darkroom. One bedroom an office and another an edit suite. From there was created what is now one of the longest-established video production companies in Scotland. Yuppie towers it started to be called, and the waiting list grew... Again; that experiment worked too well; services and the building itself was downgraded and the disrepute of the place created and managed... There came a point of course where the mandarins had their way and the demolition of the scheme – to make room for the next project – became inevitable. Then it was time to write the history... When I first heard of Red Road’s proposed demolition I - as a legitimate film maker and former resident – proposed to make a film about its demise. I required NOTHING by way of public funding, only a little co-operation and access from GHA, Safedem and the other relevant city bodies. As I was at the time also a lecturer in one of the City’s colleges; I even offered to try and tie-in the project with the education of Glasgow’s latest generation of film makers... At every turn I was either blocked or ignored. Why? Well the story I would tell you and please do remember I actually lived through it – is actually quite a positive one of a good, decent community laid-low by council mismanagement. –The deliberate seeding of the area with known criminals and anti-social tenants. The deliberate down-grading of facilities and neglect of the buildings etc... And it would have closed with a question – why did this happen? Such has been the paranoia of the Council that the last time I attempted to film – As, I stress I am legally entitled to do – from the public street, GHA/Safedem goons had no less than three Police cars despatched to interfere with me going about my legitimate business! Three! Lights flashing and horns blaring! I’m not only a press-card holder, and a fully trained news-cameraman, but a former lecturer in TV production (ex-Stow College). One of my specialist subjects was media law; and I was very quickly able to send the Police on their way. – But we might reasonably ponder the level of paranoia, not to mention the willingness and ability to abuse hard-pressed public resource that drove such an action! This is where I say the element of ‘ethnic cleansing’ come in... Not only have the people of this area been physically displaced and this community abused for profit over a period of many decades; it’s to a carefully-chosen stadt-approved few that the victors are turning to have the history written... The Commonwealth Games themselves are no more than a ‘Panem et Circences’ for the aggrandisement and benefit of the ‘naked emperors’ that lord it over the people of Glasgow - The Games have cost many a Glasgow East-Ender their homes and businesses, with no adequate compensation. It’s a spectacle that most won’t be able to access. And likewise the facilities left will be beyond the reach of many – more ‘ethnic cleansing’ and fat contracts for the boys in other words! By creating the tie-in with another part of the city they have abused for their own ends the City fathers – spread across a raft of shill organisations and hidey-holes - are making the ultimate mockery, the ultimate disrespect and display of contempt for all those ordinary Glaswegians who lived and died in those buildings. All it would take is for whoever presses the plunger to be wearing a toga and a laurel wreath quite frankly!

Posted date

12 April, 2014

Posted time

3:58 pm

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