Glasgow Red Road Flats stunt - Games Committee doesn't understand the misery

Demo at Red Road Flats

Press Statement from Positive Action in Housing in reaction to the news that the Red Road Flats will be blown up live on TV as the Commonwealth Games start

“The Red road flats should never have been built in the first place. Through our work we have regularly visited refugee and asylum seeker families and seen the misery for everyone. It’s a place of despair.

The local “shopping centre” looks like a warzone. The red road flats was where the Sehryk family committed suicide from the balcony of their fifteenth floor flat on the day they were to be made destitute by the UK borders Agency. The windows all had so called suicide prevention netting but they managed to tear it away. Those flats were not meant for human beings, they were just great big filing cabinets of humans living in misery or despair.

Before the demolition programme, the council tried to market it to university students, then professionals, but it didn’t work. No one wanted to stay in that desolate out of the way. And I guess that’s how the planners wanted it. And then thousands of asylum seekers came in from war torn countries like Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan in 2001 as part of a five year contract between the council and the Home Office to bring in thousands of asylum seekers. Their housing was no choice and Red Road was one of the places where they were effectively dumped out of the way while Glasgow City Council collected the council tax payments and rent from Westminster.

What is ironic is that the Commonwealth committee in Glasgow denied asylum seekers the right to volunteer for the games. For the Olympic games, they light a torch, and here in Glasgow, they are celebrating the start of the Commonwealth Games by blowing up the Red Road flats. Its highly insensitive and jars with the senses.

Many of the sportsmen and women in the Commonwealth games from other countries may well be claiming asylum here, as so often happens, because of the threat of torture or denial of certain freedoms over there in their own countries. The commonwealth committee clearly thinks it’s a great idea to blow it up but clearly has no concept of the misery the Red Road flats caused to thousands of people from Glasgow and across the world. No change there then.”

Robina Qureshi
Director, Positive Action in housing

Photo: © Gareth Harper
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