Thursday, 18 August 2011

Evening Times: "Sound of silence over 2014 Games inquiry"

Sound of silence over 2014 Games inquiry

18 Aug 2011

Glasgow councillors are demanding further answers over a report into whether 2014 Commonwealth Games bosses were properly scrutinised in the wake of the resignation of shamed former chief executive John Scott.

Councillors on Glasgow City Council’s finance scrutiny committee had requested a report into how the council monitors the activities of 2014 Ltd, the organising committee for Glasgow hosting the event.

But when the SNP and Labour councillors were given details of the 11-page report they refused to ask questions and noted the report in silence.

The report stated scrutiny procedures in place “were robust”. But Kenneth Elder, the Liberal Democrat chairman of the committee, later said he wanted reassurance procedures were properly followed.

Mr Scott quit in July, sparking controversy when he refused to reveal the exact details of his misdemeanour, only saying he failed to register an offer from a potential supplier.

Concerns were raised over the monitoring of the firm run by a board of members from the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council and the Commonwealth Games Scotland.

Following Mr Scott’s resignation the conveners of the council’s three scrutiny committees met, and decided the finance and audit scrutiny committee should probe the governance arrangements at 2014.

At a meeting of the committee, Carole Forrest, assistant director of corporate services, delivered the report.

She said: “The loss of a chief executive is a key issue for any organisation. In this situation, however, the effects of the loss were mitigated by the appointment of the chief operating officer acting chief executive.

“This has ensured there is continuity in the preparations for delivery of the Games pending the appointment of a new chief executive.”

But Mr Elder asked for more clarification. After the meeting he said: “It is a good point whether you can take silence as consent. I want to be assured the procedures have been carried out and the council is adhering to its own policies.”

Ms Forrest said the highest level of monitoring was by the Strategic Group, which is chaired by First Minister Alex Salmond and includes city council leader Gordon Matheson.

Dr Christopher Mason, leader of the LibDems’ group on the council, said he and his fellow scrutiny committee conveners felt there were serious questions about the way Glasgow 2014 was being run.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A correspondent writes

From one of our regular correspondents:

To the Scottish Government

Owing to the current addiction to neoliberalism on the part of Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government, a number of "pie-in-the-sky" schemes have been promoted by both entities.

"No one" could see the financial collapse of 2008 coming (this according to the very people who didn't see it coming!), just as "no one" could see that invading Iraq would be a disaster (except, of course, for the millions who marched against the war before it started).

Obviously in both cases, the experts were 100% wrong. For any of us to move forward in a productive way, we need to admit when we're wrong and learn from it.

We are now, due to the reckless actions of the former GCC leader Steven Purcell, lumbered with the costly mega-event known as the Commonwealth Games. One of the supposed benefits (which will not trickle down to the city's residents) is tourism. I think it's worthwhile to look at the report of Ronald Jackson, regarding a CPO obtained by GCC against several local businesses. In the report, Mr Jackson states:

"On balance, given the commitment and involvement of Jumeirah, the detailed appraisal
work on both cost and value that has been carried out and the evidence set out in
paragraphs 10-14 above, I consider that it is much more likely than not that the necessary
funding would be available for the scheme. Having regard to my findings in this and the
three preceding paragraphs I attach little weight to the objectors’ development appraisal
(RBH 7), prefer the evidence of the council and its witnesses and conclude that the weight
of evidence shows that the scheme would be financially viable."

Now consider today's news:

"Jumeirah Group’s plans to operate a luxury hotel in Scotland have been thrown into disarray after the developer behind the $200m project went into administration."

Perhaps only in Glasgow could the city unveil an "International Financial Services District" after the collapse of international finance, but then again nonsensical development plans have scarred cities across the UK and USA.

What about actually listening to the people who live in the city?



Commonwealth Games Chief quits over "gift"

From the Daily Record:

Glasgow Commonwealth Games chief quits over gift

john scott Image 2

Gift 'mistake' costs Scott his 2014 post

POLICE are to question Commonwealth Games chiefs after the head of Glasgow 2014 quit for failing to declare a gift.

John Scott admitted he had accepted an "offer" from a "potential supplier" and failed to declare it.

Games organisers Glasgow 2014 Ltd announced the 59-year-old had resigned from his £179,000-a-year post.

But they refused to reveal details of what he took.

They would only say it was an "error of judgment" and a "mistake".

Last night, Strathclyde Police said no investigation has been launched into the scandal.

However, it is understood police will speak to the board, possibly today, and the situation could change.

A senior insider at the force said: "We will be asking questions about this."

Lord Robert Smith, chairman of the Glasgow 2014 board, announced Scott's resignation after an emergency meeting yesterday.

Insiders say the details of the gift or gratuity were not disclosed to the meeting and are only known to Lord Smith and a close circle.

In a statement, Lord Smith said: "John Scott has made an important contribution to the plannin g of what we believe will be an outstanding Games.

"The board has accepted his resignation for an error of judgment he made in accepting, and not declaring, an offer from one of Glasgow 2014's potential suppliers, in breach of the organising committee's strict gifts and gratuities policy.

"I know he deeply regrets this mistake and this was a job that he loved. It is a measure of the man that he has put the values and reputation of the organising committee ahead of his own at this time.

"John was largely responsible for setting the committee's high standards of governance and he felt he could not continue in his role as chief executive under the circumstances."

Commonwealth Games minister Shona Robison said: "John Scott has made a valuable contribution as chief executive of the organising committee.

"However, the reputation and integrity of our Games is paramount and, to that end, I believe Mr Scott has done the right and principled thing in stepping down."

Gordon Arthur, a board member and the spokesman for Glasgow 2014, said Scott informed Lord Smith of the offer late last week.

The Scottish government and Glasgow City Council - the two bodies funding the Games - were told of Scott's resignation yesterday afternoon.

David Grevemberg, the current chief operating officer, has taken over as acting chief executive.

Scott took up his post in 2008. Before that, he was a key adviser on the London 2012 Olympic bid.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Evicted gran goes back to see flat pulled down

Evicted gran returns to see her flat being pulled down

  • 13558936
  • Margaret Jaconelli returns to her old home with grandson Luca

5 May 2011

Commonwealth Games site battler Margaret Jaconelli returned to her old home in Glasgow’s East End … to watch it being demolished.

Glasgow City Council carried out its promise to pull down the sandstone built flats in Ardenlea Street, Dalmarnock to make way for a service area for the 2014 sporting extravaganza.

There was no sign of the heavy security or the 100 police officers who helped evict Margaret and her family 42 days ago following a legal battle in which the family refused to move from the site which will be next to the Athletes’ Village.

Margaret, husband Jack and members of her family turned up for a final farewell to their home of 35 years.

Margaret, 53 said: “I am homeless and penniless thanks to a hard-hearted local authority.

“They said they would paying me £90,000 for my property though I’ve not had so much as a letter from the council.

“All I’m walking away with today is memories.”

She criticised Glasgow City Council for refusing to accept a mediation proposal put forward by the SNP government in Holyrood.

The Jaconellis and their four sons, daughter-in-law and grandson Luca, eight months, spent around 30 minutes in the street during a workman’s tea-break.

Then, after one final look back, they walked out of Ardenlea Street for the last time.

The doomed sandstone tenement still had the message written on the front: ‘Davina – We’re No Being Evicted’. It was the only remaining sign of the family’s sit-in campaign.

The wrecking crew then moved in to turn the building into rubble.

It was the only home Margaret’s son Aaron, 17, had known and he said: “I can remember happy days here, playing in the street.

“Now it’s all gone, I’m gutted.”

A council spokesman said: “The demolition will allow construction work on the Athletes’ Village to begin.” [Well, that's alright then. There will be absolutely NO benefit for the residents of Glasgow, but hey - someone will be making some quick money...]

Friday, 1 April 2011

Save the Accord Centre

So two weeks ago the Accord Centre were sent a letter from the Council saying they would have to vacate the premises yesterday. But the place the Council was going to move everyone is having "financial difficulties". Anyways, the Centre is fighting back - follow their news on Facebook.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Games Monitor: The eviction

Photos and more about the Jaconelli eviction:

Friday, 25 March 2011


100 cops evict gran from flat for Commonweath Games

MORE than 100 police officers yesterday helped evict a defiant gran from her flat, which is to be flattened for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

In a 5am raid, Margaret Jaconelli, 52, was shifted by force from her Glasgow home of 35 years after an eight-year legal battle.

Her supporters were stunned by the numbers used by Strathclyde Police, but the force said the eviction was “resourced appropriately”.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Herald notices Glasgow planning makes no sense

It took them awhile, but still the elite organ the Glasgow Herald finally notices that the City Council's destruction of the city makes no sense. Still, they oddly recommend that Margaret Jaconelli "take the money and move on". However, they do - finally, belatedly - recognise that knocking down communities does not engender communities. Better late than never?

The real legacy of the 2014 Games

The transformation of the east end of Glasgow into an international sports hub for the Commonwealth Games in 2014 is but the latest episode in the decades-long saga of regeneration of the area.

Successive city councillors, planners, economists and architects have wrestled with Quixotic plans to once again make the post-industrial city the Dear Green Place.

There have been many mistakes along the way, mostly due to vaulting municipal ambition. Glasgow undertook the largest, post-war, comprehensive redevelopment of any city in the UK and thousands of tenements were demolished. Famously, a delegation of councillors to Marseille in 1947 were so bedazzled by Le Corbusier’s tower blocks that they returned with visions of replacing dark slums with sun-filled, high-rise towers. The reality in rainy west of Scotland was very different. The most notorious blocks in Hutchesontown, where tenants used to conduct journalists on tours of the mould growing on the walls, have now been demolished.

With the award of the title of European City of Architecture in 1999 came a new sense of custodianship, not just of the ornate city centre buildings but of the streets of handsomely proportioned sandstone tenements which have been integral to the physical and social structure of the city since Victorian times.

Yet the recognition that too many have been lost that might have been refurbished has not spared the traditional streets around Parkhead from the developers’ bulldozers. The tried and tested model of three floors of tenement flats above ground floor shops provides the sense of community all planners seek. In this case, however, that has been trumped by the greater good of the new community due to emerge as the legacy of the Commonwealth Games.

Which is where Jack and Margaret Jaconelli come into the picture. Their tenement flat is now the only one still occupied in Ardenlea Street, the whole of which is to be demolished to provide a construction yard for the athletes’ village for the Games. The Jaconellis’ flat is the subject of a compulsory purchase order by the council.

Naturally, they don’t want to leave the home they have lived in for 34 years and now own outright. Mrs Jaconelli’s feisty resistance must endear her to all of us whose natural instinct is to take the side of the underdog in the face of corporate clout or against a public body failing in its duty to act fairly and reasonably. Having lost an appeal against a sheriff’s ruling that the council can evict her, she and her family have barricaded themselves in.

Unlike householders on land adjoining Donald Trump’s golf course in Aberdeenshire, who have gained assurances the tycoon will not ask the council to take out compulsory purchase orders on their homes, the stand-off between the couple and the council is not as simple a David and Goliath battle as it first appears. Mrs Jaconelli turned down the offer of £30,000 for her flat because it would not be sufficient to buy another. That is true but neighbours who took the offer when it was first made gained a sizeable deposit which enabled them to buy a better house.

The council has since increased its offer to £90,000 but Mrs Jaconelli was not satisfied because it compared poorly with compensation paid to property developers. The couple spend £5000 a year on heating their two-bedroom flat as a result of the condition of the building. A letter submitted to the court from their doctor says both are suffering from stress due to their housing circumstances and a move would improve their health. It surely is now in her interest to take the money on offer and move. [???!!!]

Nevertheless, the council must be held to account. The success or failure of the Games must be judged as much on the legacy as on the sporting festival, attendance figures and income generated. Improved health and wealth for ithe community are part of the deal.

It is not only the sanctity of people’s homes that must be respected. Instead of demolishing the stones and structure of the community, a new sense of purpose and pride in the east end of Glasgow would be better achieved by building on them.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Vote Margaret Jaconelli!

Eviction protestor bids for move to Holyrood

23 Mar 2011

A GRANDMOTHER embroiled in a bitter eviction battle over plans to demolish her home to make way for the Commonwealth Games athletes’ village is to stand for the Scottish Parliament.

Margaret Jaconelli, 52, said yesterday she would contest May’s poll on a platform of fighting for a fair legacy for Glasgow after the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

She will put up a £500 deposit raised by supporters of her bid to remain in her home.

The announcement came as she remained barricaded in her tenement in the Dalmarnock area of the city after being served with an eviction notice by Glasgow City Council on Friday.

Mrs Jaconelli urged the council to delay moving in until after polling day on May 5 as she plans to designate the home as her campaign headquarters in the six-week run up to the election.

The would-be politician and her husband, Jack, also 52, are the only remaining residents in a now-derelict block of flats in Ardenlea Street, which is set to be demolished to make way for a 52-hectare athletes’ village.

She said: “Before now, I had never dreamed of entering the world of politics. But then I realised I have been locked in a political battle with this council for the past eight years.

“They want to steal my home from me and my family but I have had neither the power not political platform to take them on.

“That changes now. Hopefully, with the support of the Glasgow people, I can highlight the disgraceful way our community has been treated in the name of these Games.

“It is not about me. I am aware of many examples where this council has bulldozed the rights of its citizens. People have been coming to me recently asking for help.

“I would ask the council to respect the fact that my home is now my campaign headquarters and remove the threat of eviction until after the vote.”

A source close to Mrs Jaconelli said she was completing paperwork for her candidacy ahead of next Tuesday’s deadline for entries. He added that she he planned to submit the forms in person at the City Chambers.

He added that she was currently seeking advice on whether to stand as a list MSP or in a particular seat, and remained undecided.

Dozens of Mrs Jaconelli’s supporters continued to hold a vigil outside the property throughout yesterday, with many sleeping in their cars overnight.

However, a council spokesman said their “position had not changed” and the eviction was still on track despite being more than four days past its original deadline.

The family’s lawyer, Mike Dailly said he did not believe citing the flat as a campaign headquarters would stop it being demolished.

He said he will now take the fight to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Mr Dailly said: “I don’t feel we can go any further within UK law. We have taken this appeal to Europe. We do believe this is a violation of their human rights.”

The council has been granted a compulsory purchase order on the property. Mrs Jaconelli’s last appeal to the Court of Session was rejected on Thursday, and an eviction notice was issued next day.

However, the council failed to go through with the removal, citing fears for the safety of young children inside the house, which has been barricaded.

The council has offered £90,000 compensation to the couple. They have no mortgage but say after legal fees and other costs they would not be able to buy another property in Glasgow outright.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Games organisers "failed to meet dozens of targets"

Evening Times:

Salmond called in to Games row

21 Mar 2011

First Minister Alex Salmond has been asked to explain why Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games organisers have failed to meet dozens of targets.

Liberal Democrat MSP Robert Brown said the missed milestones were “extremely worrying”.

The 2014 Games are being run by Glasgow 2014 Ltd, known as the Organising Committee, along with Scottish Government and city council funders.

A draft of the committee’s latest business plan, leaked to our sister paper the Sunday Herald, shows 46 milestones have not been met. Dates were put back over a year, or reprofiled as “to be confirmed”.

A “ceremonies strategic plan”, due in January, had not yet been published, while the date on the accommodation plan had slipped by nine months.

A logistics strategic plan missed its completion date of June last year, and an anti doping scheme milestone went by the wayside.

Mr Brown raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions, but did not get the answers he wanted. Now, in a letter to Mr Salmond, the former deputy education minister has asked for a detailed reply, saying: “The level of delays and slippage indicated, seem to me to be extremely worrying.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said the Games “remain on track and on budget”, a comment echoed by the Organising Committee.

Meanwhile, a couple facing eviction to make way for the Games village have fortified their Dalmarnock flat against bids to take it over.

Margaret and her husband Jack, both 52, lost a legal fight to stay in their home.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Margaret Jaconelli secures 2014 Games eviction hearing

BBC Online:

She is the last remaining resident in a block of flats at Ardenlea Street

A woman whose home is to be demolished to make way for the 2014 Commonwealth Games has secured a last-minute hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Margaret Jaconelli, a 52-year-old grandmother, is due to be evicted from her flat in Dalmarnock, Glasgow, later after losing an appeal last week.

Her application to take the case to the Court of Session was then refused by Glasgow Sheriff Court.

However, on Wednesday, her lawyer managed to secure the 1000 GMT hearing.

Mrs Jaconelli was told earlier this week that she could appeal the compensation awarded to her through the Lands Tribunal but the eviction scheduled for Thursday afternoon would not be postponed.

She is the last remaining resident in a block of flats at Ardenlea Street.

'Fingers crossed'

Glasgow City Council was granted a compulsory purchase order for the two-bedroom property.

Mrs Jaconelli said the £30,000 initially offered for her home, which she has lived in for 34 years, was not enough to buy another property.

The city council said the district valuer had since increased the offer to £90,000.

Mrs Jaconelli said: "I am keeping my fingers crossed that I still have a roof over my head by Thursday night.

"Me and my family have worked all our lives for what we have.

"I still maintain that this council is trying to steal my house from me."

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Games "on track"

Don't worry, everything's fine:

BBC Online

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games on track - director

Scotstoun is one of the venues that will be used in the 2014 Games

Director Gordon Arthur has responded to claims that Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games has missed deadlines by insisting preparations are "on track."

Recent press reports suggested that milestones in the build-up to the event had not been met.

"We've not missed 50 milestones, we have re-phased," said Arthur.

"We are from the organising committee's planning point of view and the Games partners' delivery of infrastructure programme, in a very good place."

Arthur insisted the organising committee was keen to ensure that public money was being spent responsibly and at the right time.

"We've got huge support from the media right across Scotland," he told BBC Radio Scotland's Sport Nation programme.

"One is always going to get the occasional articles where people take a different stance.

"A year ago, when we put together our business plan, we set out largely based on the guidance that we get from the knowledge transfer system that's run by the Commonwealth Games Federation.

"Remember, we were only about 20 people in the organising committee a year ago. We set out a programme of work, but most of what we've been doing during the year, as well as recruiting people, is understanding better the task that we've got to do and a huge amount of that understanding and knowledge transfer takes you to re-phasing your work.

All the infrastructure build that's going on in Scotland, which is much, much smaller but nevertheless very impressive programme, is absolutely on track
Gordon Arthur

"So we haven't missed milestones, we've re-phased a lot of our work and the reason we do that is to make sure we don't recruit people any earlier than we need to, or spend money any earlier than we need to.

"We're very conscious we're publicly funded in the main and we want to spend that money very, very wisely."

The build-up to the Delhi Games in 2010 was beset with problems in terms of getting facilities ready on time and Arthur admits that the Glasgow organising committee cannot afford to keep "re-phasing" right up until the event itself.

"Clearly that would not be helpful, but it's all about understanding better where we are and what we're doing," added Arthur.

"Since we came back from Delhi, we've done about two thirds of our very detailed functional area strategies.

"We now have a really detailed understanding of the complexity of the programme and all the interdependencies that lie between the different aspects of the programme.

"We are on track, we are on budget and we are very happy, as are the Commonwealth Games Federation, with where we are at this point in time.

"The big challenge Delhi had is they took on an enormous programme of building. It wasn't just the venues, they were building new metro systems, new roads, new railways - it was a colossal programme of infrastructure build they took on.

"All the infrastructure build that's going on in Scotland, which is much, much smaller but nevertheless very impressive programme, is absolutely on track.

"The facilities are largely due to be open two years before the Games and will be used by concerts and sporting events.

"The M74 (extension) is due to open this year. The Airdrie-Bathgate rail line's already open."

Friday, 21 January 2011

Another shocker!

As hard as it may be to believe, it appears that the "legacy projects" for the Commonwealth Games may be disappearing up in smoke. Who would've thunk it? Imagine - a government spends a huge amount of money on a project that will only benefit contractors, developers, etc, after telling everyone there would be huge gains for the people. Well, it would never happen in Glasgow!

Ok, of course it will. And London too. As this blog has pointed out time and time again, "mega-events" like the Commonwealth Games never deliver gains for the ordinary person. It's a con game.

Cash fears over 2014 Commonwealth Games legacy

Commonwealth Games montage (Clockwise from top left) Cycling image, games logo, boxing image, National Indoor Sports Arena image and aerial view before construction

Plans to leave a "golden" economic legacy from Glasgow's 2014 Commonwealth Games are "under real threat" because of funding cuts, it has been claimed.

Clyde Gateway said cash earmarked for it, and five other urban regeneration companies, was being slashed by 46%.

It claims this will jeopardise redevelopment plans for Glasgow's east end which will be home to the games.

Fund givers Scottish Enterprise said it had had to look closely at future priorities.

Clyde Gateway is one of six urban regeneration firms in Scotland charged with delivering "focused, integrated strategies" to turn around run-down communities.

All six receive funding from the Scottish government and its main economic development agency, Scottish Enterprise.

Clyde Gateway said it had been given "a ballpark figure of just over £18m as a combined level of support for 2011/12 from the Scottish government and Scottish Enterprise but no indication of support for 2012 and beyond".

It claimed Scottish Enterprise had made a 46% cut in support to all six urban regeneration firms in 2011/12.

The agency said that it had been "anticipating" £7.5m from Scottish Enterprise on the basis of a "legal agreement" but had now been told it would share £6.8m with the other five urban regeneration firms.

In a statement, Clyde Gateway said: "We now have less resources that we had been led to believe from previous discussions and from statements made by government ministers that Clyde Gateway was a national priority given the nature of our work and our efforts to assist with the delivery of a true legacy from the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

"As such, it is going to be a huge challenge to maintain the momentum we have built up over the last three years and it will also be tremendously difficult to plan ahead for meaningful long-term regeneration and development.

"We are currently looking at the different options open to us, but it would be accurate to say that some of the longer-term economic development projects we saw as being key to success are in jeopardy."

Clyde Gateway's Jim Clark said that the funding indicated by Scottish Enterprise amounted to "a substantial cut".

Derelict sites

He told BBC News Online Scotland: "While the Commonwealth Games and main venues are not in any danger, the legacy from the games is, with many of the regeneration goals in Glasgow's east end under real threat."

Mr Clark said proposals to bring derelict sites into use and make the area around the M74 extension more attractive were now in jeopardy.

A spokeswoman for Scottish Enterprise said: "In common with all other public sector organisations, we have had to look closely at our priorities for next year to ensure that we're investing in those areas that will have the biggest impact possible on Scotland's economic performance.

"The Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 offers enormous opportunities and we recognise that we need to invest now if we are to fully exploit these opportunities for the benefit of Scotland.

"In recognition of this and of the important contribution that urban regeneration companies make to the Scottish economy, we have agreed to invest £6.8m to support their activity in 2011/12.

"This is in addition to funding from the Scottish government and the combined investment will ensure that they have access to more than £25m in 2011/12."