Glasgow has scrapped controversial plans to blow up five long-standing high rise buildings as part of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony amid a public backlash.
Just 10 days after announcing the ambitious venture, organisers on Sunday said the planned “blow down” of the Scottish city’s iconic Red Road flats was now considered too risky from a safety and security standpoint.
The plans had proved controversial, with an online petition against the demolition quickly gathering thousands of signatures and opponents threatening to occupy an exclusion zone around the blocks.
“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,” Glasgow 2014 chief executive David Grevemberg said in a statement on Sunday.
“Over the past few days it has become clear that opinions have been expressed which change the safety and security context.
“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 northeast Glasgow.”
Organisers had promised the demolition of the 50-year-old buildings, which was to be shown live on the Celtic Park big screen during the July 23 opening ceremony, would “wow the world” and make a statement about Glasgow’s focus on regeneration.
Contractor Safedem was to use around 1250kg of explosives to bring the five tower blocks down with 887 homes to be evacuated.
But the plans were labelled tasteless by members of the community.
A petition attracted more than 16,000 signatures while The Citizens United Against Cuts to Public Services reportedly had 30 volunteers ready to disrupt the planned demolition.
The family of Red Road architect Sam Bunton accused Grevemberg of “completely disingenuous conduct” after he announced the plans before a meeting to discuss their concerns.
In a letter published in Scottish newspaper The Herald, the family described the plans as “crass and appalling”.
The Red Road towers, built in the 1960s on the site of a former cabbage patch, once housed 5000 people but have since fallen into decline.
“The demolition of the Red Road blocks is a matter for Glasgow Housing Association and will take place under a full safety regime as part of their on-going regeneration program,” Grevemberg said.
The backdown comes on the eve of Glasgow marking 100 days to go before the opening ceremony.