Aamer’s column for Scottish Sun on Sunday 6th April 2014
Red Road Flats- Glasgow’s Miles Better
Why oh why could Glasgow City Council not come up with something better than blowing up tower blocks to open Summer’s Commonwealth Games?
I appreciate that the leader of the Council Gordon Matheson needs to issue sound bites, but could his PR advisers not have found him better ones than it’s a ‘Bold development’, ‘highlighting Glasgow’s social history’ or ‘the demolition will Wow the world’
What message do these buffoons hope to send to a global audience of one billion by blowing up five of the Red Road Flats tower blocks? They claim this is about marking the regeneration of Glasgow but try telling that to the locals in the ‘red road’.
Red Road Flats- Social History?
Unemployment rates stand at 50% for their young people, most of whom are dumped on the scrap heap before they can even start looking for a job.
The area has twice the national average rate for lung cancer and heart disease, whilst 40% of the population live below the poverty line.
Babies are 12 times more likely to die in this area before their first birthday than they are in the prosperous areas of Glasgow.
I don’t suppose that Gordon’s PR advisers have even considered that the world will ask why one tower block will be left standing? Not worthy of habitation unless of course you happen to be asylum seekers who will continue to be housed in the remaining tower block.
Gordon is proud of the Council’s record on welcoming asylum seekers. In reality it was nothing more than a dirty deal cooked up to claim hundreds of millions from the Home Office for housing asylum seekers in dilapidated tower blocks that were originally earmarked for demolition.
Scapegoating flourishes when people have no hope but combine it with anti-refugee bigotry whipped up by politicians/media and it makes for an explosive cocktail.
I still remember marching with over a thousand asylum seekers on Glasgow City Council in 2001 after the murder of Firsat Yildiz a Kurdish asylum seeker who came here to seek a better life.
The marchers simply asked to be treated with dignity and respect. In 2010 the Sehryk family, a mother, father and son after being refused asylum and fearing deportation to Russia, jumped to their death from the 15th floor of a Red Road Flats Tower block.
I doubt that any of this will feature in Gordon’s visual tapestry of social history.
In 2001 there was no consultation on the dumping of asylum seekers which managed to pit the poor against poor.
Once again the Council didn’t bother to consult the local community, nearly 900 will be evacuated when the tower blocks are blown up, but none are worthy of being offered tickets to watch the games.
Red Road Flats Demolition- Cheap Gimmick?
After the Olympics, we should know that the poor rarely see the benefit of vanity projects. Fast deals on regeneration benefit the rich, whilst the poor see their community centres bulldozed to make car parks.
Gordon should be ashamed of the Council’s failure to invest in its people, treating the ‘Red Road Flats’ as nothing more than a landmark on the Glasgow skyline to be smudged out for ever as a cheap gimmick.
But why now Gordon? Maybe the Games budget comes in handy for some nifty accounting to carry out a much needed demolition of the Red Road Flats? But where exactly is the multimillion investment to replace what is gone?
“Never mind the fireworks, Glasgow is miles better, we blow things up.” If these jokers don’t get a grip they’re likely to turn us into a global laughing stock.