Former MSP Carolyn Leckie has launched an online petition protesting plans to demolish five of the Red Road Flats in Glasgow as part of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on 23 July.
The eight flats, widely recognised in Glasgow as the city’s most iconic social housing, once housed almost 5,000 people. Though two of the blocks had twenty-five storeys, six had thirty – making them the tallest residential buildings in Western Europe when construction finished in the late 1960s.
But Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) chairman Gordon Sloan said they are “no longer viable as modern homes” and the decision to demolish them was made as “part of the wider regeneration of the north of Glasgow”.
Two of the blocks have already been brought down – the first in June 2012, and the second in May last year.
Five of the six remaining flats, according to plans unveiled this morning, will be brought down by controlled explosions before a huge international audience. The demolition will be shown live on a 100ft-wide screen at Celtic Park and aired across the world to open the Commonwealth Games.
The sixth flat will remain standing and continue to house people seeking asylum in the UK.
Shona Robison, Scottish Government minister in charge of the Games, described the planned demolition as a “spectacular start” that would “send a strong signal about the power of the Commonwealth Games”.
Leckie’s petition, however, claims that “there will not be universal joy as [the flats] come down” and that “the image of tower blocks coming down is not a positive international spectacle”.
The petition does not suggest that the flats continue standing, but that GHA should not “[contradict] previous policy of not making a spectacle of the demolition of high-rise flats”.
On Twitter, Leckie – a socialist who sat in the Scottish Parliament between 2003 and 2007 – said she wanted “to ensure Red Road is demolished with dignity, not as entertainment”, and questioned whether there had been any consultation with residents and ex-residents.
She also posed questions about the demolition’s impact on asylum seekers in the last flat, suggesting that it would convey “that the flats are an eyesore, unfit for ‘human’ habitation and that ‘human’ doesn’t include them”.