By a Newsnet reporter
The organisers of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games have bowed to public pressure and scrapped plans to feature the demolition of a row of multi-storey flats as the centre-piece of the opening ceremony.
In an announcement this afternoon, Games’ chief executive David Grevemberg said: “We made it clear from the outset the absolute priority was safety and that this event would only happen during the opening ceremony if it was safe to do so.
“Over the past few days it has become clear that opinions have been expressed which change the safety and security context.”
Then, in a statement that will be welcomed across Glasgow and Scotland he added: “Glasgow 2014, Games partners and key stakeholders, including Police Scotland and Glasgow Housing Association, are not prepared to allow what was proposed to be a positive act of commemoration to create risk for all concerned, including the communities of north east Glasgow.”
The plan was widely derided when announced weeks ago. It spawned an online petition against the move that attracted the support of 17,000 people.
Carolyn Leckie, who launched the petition, called the decision “sensible”.
Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme, the former Scottish Socialist MSP said: “It’s the sensible decision. Because the organisers have changed their minds, presumably there’s been some consensus developed behind the scenes between all the arms involved in this.
“It’s an indication that people power can be effective.”
A motion had also been lodged in the Scottish Parliament by Glasgow MSP Bob Doris. SNP member Doris also welcomed the decision to drop the plans for the demolition to form part of the opening ceremony.
Mr Doris, who lives in North Glasgow, said: “This is the correct decision; I am absolutely delighted that the organisers have listened to the overwhelming will of the people of Glasgow on this.
“The Commonwealth Games are just over 100 days away and it is vital that they are a unifying factor for people in Glasgow, in Scotland and across the Commonwealth.
“I laid a motion at the Scottish Parliament highlighting my concerns about the lack of community engagement ahead of this announcement and called on immediate consultation.
“This is not the end of the story – indeed it marks a watershed and should now be viewed as a positive opportunity for Glasgow Housing Association and the City Council to develop further its efforts to achieve an inclusive partnership with the people of Glasgow over how we take forward regeneration of this great city.”
Joining the SNP MSP in welcoming the decision was party colleague Susan Aitken who leads the SNP group in Glasgow City Council:
She added: “This is a sensible decision by the Organising Committee and they deserve credit for having listened and responded to the deeply held concerns of many Glaswegians. The Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, like the Games themselves, should be something that we can all share and enjoy and hopefully that will now be the case.”
Commonwealth Games Minister Shona Robison said:
“I support Glasgow 2014’s decision to withdraw plans to demolish the Red Road flats as part of the opening ceremony.
“Glasgow 2014 and Games partners have listened to those who have objected to plans for a live demolition and also the security concerns of Police Scotland in making this decision.
“The Commonwealth Games is about bringing individuals and communities together and as we approach 100 Days to Go, we are confident that the opening ceremony will provide an opportunity to showcase Scotland and that these Games will be the greatest ever.”