The remains of the six tower blocks on Red Road which were blown down on Sunday are now attracting tourists. Nicknamed – the Leaning Towers of Petershill – the two fragments of buildings still standing with ten or more floors intact, are being widely photographed.
Dr Helen Murray and her friend Catriona Fraser came from Aberdeen specially to see the mounds of rubble. From Glasgow originally, Helen said: ‘You knew you were home when you saw the Red Road flats on the horizon. My mother has asked me to bring her here to see the site even although she’s never been on this side of the city.’
The two friends have toured the country taking fun shots of different places and people – including tennis star Andy Murray.
Local residents in the Red Road exclusion area were – mostly – back to normal. Said Margaret Finlay, a family support worker at the Tron St Mary Church of Scotland on Red Road: ‘It was back to work on Monday. There wasn’t a lot of inconvenience.’ The Church’s community allotments had been covered with black tarpaulins to protect the vegetables and other plants from the dust. And the Sunday service had been held in Springburn Church along with that congregation.
Bonnybroom Nursery which was possibly the closest building to the demolition site, was open on Monday as usual. Glasgow City Council was asked by the head teacher to put out a tweet to that effect.
The senior citizens’ Alive and Kicking building on Red Road and the Family Centre next door were all still being cleaned up today (Thursday 15 October) before expecting to re-open soon.
Contractor Safedem is using high-reach machinery to dismantle 123 Petershill Drive. The work will involve weakening the steel frame enough to enable it to be brought down to ground level under controlled conditions. A safe exclusion zone within the site has been set up so that parts of the structure can be dismantled safely. The exclusion zone also includes a buffer zone for debris.
A GHA spokesman said: ‘Although two of the blocks did not fall exactly as predicted on Sunday, all blocks are now at a height that the demolition can be completed as planned. The contractor is now dismantling the remaining floors of the blocks. This work will be carried out under strict health and safety conditions and with minimum disruption to residents.’
While reports from various residents alluded to burst water pipes, broken locks, washing machines stopping working, no one spoken to had actually experienced any back lash from the major blow-down on Sunday.
The six blocks were built in the late 1960s. Designed by architect Sam Bunton, they cost £6 million. The cost of demolition has not been revealed by Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) which is part of the Wheatley Group and owns the iconic properties.
All six of the infamous Red Road high flats were ‘blown down’ today but remnants of two of them remained after the explosion. Hours after the event, no one at Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) was able to comment on whether this was intended or not. Nor did the social landlord – part of the Wheatley Group – release the normal details of how much explosive was used, how many tonnes of rubble would be created etc.
One insider, however, said that the steel structure of the building was such that four times the normal amount of explosive would have been used and the two bits of building remaining standing would have been ‘not expected.’
And by early evening it was understood that hundreds of people were being advised to ‘look at the GHA website’ to see where they might spend the night if they were unable to return to their homes because of the unsafe, remaining structures.
An emergency inspection was believed to be underway as this story
is being written.
Local people in their hundreds stood at various vantage points for hours to wait for the massive implosion. They were well pleased. Cheers and a round of applause accompanied the massive cloud of dust which followed the collapse of the blocks. The dust spread over a very wide area.
Said trainee photographer Joe Graham: ‘That was quick!’ as he scrolled through his images.
Local resident Joan Flanagan said: ‘That was magic. I like big bangs and love to see things being destructed like that.’
Bobby Burns, also a local resident said: ‘That’s bitter sweet to see. It is one chapter of life closed now. But I suppose it opens a new one of re-generation for the area.’ He said he’d lived in two different tower blocks and commented: ‘They’ve both gone now. They were blown down too.’
The huge operation to clear the surrounding area of people began early on Sunday morning. ‘Two thousand five hundred people had to be moved,’ said one GHA official spokesman. ‘That takes time.’
Some resistance was expected from one householder – Tina Suffredini who chairs the local residents’ association. But when the time came, the GHA’s ‘plan B’ to have Sheriff Officers physically remove the lady from her property, was not required and she left her home of her own accord.
MSP Patricia Ferguson, who spent 11 years of her early girlhood in one of the Red Road flats said: ‘These needed to come down. I hope the new developments will bring job opportunities and community facilities and the GHA is consulting with local people to do that.’
The Red Road in North Glasgow is turning green. Children from the Red Road Family Centre turned out to help plant some trees today, Friday 13 December.
Colin Reid, Energy and Sustainability Officer with Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) had prepared the waste ground off the Red Road by digging more than 150 holes for the tiny trees and shrubs.
With great glee, the pre-school youngsters made a race of taking a tree with its root balled in earth, placing it in a hole then putting the turf back on top and stamping on it to press it down and keep the embryo tree firmly upright.
Said Linda Fraser, Project Manager at the Red Road Centre: ‘This has been a great day. You could say the children have put down ‘new roots’ on the old Red Road!’
MSP Patricia Ferguson was one of the band of local supporters in the background. She said: ‘I was brought up in one of the multi storey flats here and have fond memories of living here. In the future these children may not remember the Red Road flats but they might remember planting a tree.’
The environmental regeneration programme is supported by GHA, the Woodlands Trust which supplied the tiny trees and shrubs and some of the local community.
One local resident who didn’t want to be named said: ‘This could be very nice but will Glasgow City Council look after it? They’ve neglected so many other green spaces around here.’
The Red Road flats are in the process of being stripped out. Some demolitions are planned for next year and the entire project programmed to be completed by 2017.
In Public isn’t very public – yet! The new style artists’ studio space in Stockwell Street looks like an art gallery to anyone walking past the shop front near the famous ice cream shop. Massive portraits of ladies from Spain stare out to the Glasgow street. They are the work of international artist Alexander Guy. And In Public is his idea too. Behind the portraits is studio space which is like a gym for artists. Each can do their own thing in their own area but there is the collective camaraderie and shared learning and teaching ongoing.
Scots born Guy, who has lived and worked in the UK, the USA, Spain, France and Germany said: There are many talented artists around. They need low cost studio facilities. This former shop is ideal. It has space for a good number of artists and room for tuition too.’
Life classes and other drawing and painting coaching is available. Said Guy: ‘There is a mix of artists at different levels. They help each other.’
The project stems from a highly successful pilot run by Guy in conjunction with Glasgow Housing Association for tenants in high flats in the city. He is now hoping for City Council backing to ensure artistic talent is nurtured in the city centre. ‘In Public is providing low cost – high quality studio options and tuition to amateur and trained artists,’ he said. ‘There are a lot of people out there with talent. This is a way to help them develop it.’
Sculptor and artist Luis Ys Trad Clud Ma Gill (pictured below)
is one of the talented people who’ve taken studio space at In Public. Known for his many versions of ‘Venus’ in Gorbals and Govanhill, usually reclaiming vandalised spaces – he is working on a new project based on the Owl and the Pussycat poem by Edward Lear. ‘In a sense it is related to the Venus idea because it is still love and romance and fantasy,’ said Luis. This time his medium is paint. ‘That’s a technical change and challenge for me,’ he commented. ‘But it is still political. In Greece, the owl is symbolic of democracy. In Egypt the cat is an ancient symbol of power.’ As his vision evolves in In Public, he hopes to attract support from the wedding industry as well as the wider community. This work has the chance to develop into poetry, dance, music and – as always with Luis – humour.
Anyone who wants to see artists at work or who wants to find space to pursue their own artistic talents, should drop into In Public. A cup of coffee is often on offer, presented in an artistic china cup, of course.
Direct action is the name of the game now. The Defend Glasgow Services Campaigners have targetted the Scottish Conservative Party’s annual conference in Stirling on Saturday 8 June. A bus load of them will leave from the UNISON office in 84 Bell Street, Candleriggs at 8.45am. Said Brian Smith, Branch Secretary of the trade union: ‘We’re fighting the bedroom tax and the Tory cuts! We’re running a free bus to the protest for those wishing to tell the Tories exactly what we think.’ They are linking with a similar group in Stirling which has organised a rally against the bedroom tax and the UK Government’s austerity programme in Stirling’s King’s Park at 10am.
Contact for Brian: email@example.com
On the home front – Glasgow Home Owners Campaign is currently protesting against the unfairness of free overcladding work being given to home owners now, when their members have had to pay up to £7,500 each for such work which they were forced to carry out by their factor GHA (Glasgow Housing Association) in the recent past.
‘Many people have been put in debt through this,’ said Sean Clerkin who chairs the Campaign which meets regularly in the Jury’s Inn in Jamaica Street, Glasgow. ‘And those who can’t pay are now appearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court and face the possibility of losing their homes.’
GHA has refused to discuss the issue with them, so the group held a sit-in at the GHA headquarters last month. If they continue to get no satisfaction from GHA the campaigners have the company’s chief – Martin Armstrong – in their sights. More recently they held a sit-in at Scottish Government offices in Waterloo Street because the Scottish Government and energy companies have combined to offer the free work to home owners.
The biggest protest rally Glasgow has seen in years had more than 3000 people marching from Glasgow Green to George Square, united in their opposition to the bedroom tax.
Seasoned campaigners, families with their children and baby buggies, trade unionists, people in a wide variety of mobility carts and folk walking their dogs, took more than an hour to wend their way to the city centre. Many of them shouting: ‘Axe the tax.’
Facing the City Chambers, a series of speakers explained why their campaign was part of a wide strategy to protect the most vulnerable in the community.
Labour MP Ann McKechin, MSP Frank McAveety and Glasgow City Councillor George Redmond were among the group who marched. Arriving in George Square, Westminster MP Ann McKechin said to this website’s reporter: ‘I’m not surprised at this turnout. People are shocked by the scale of this unfair and unjust tax. The Westminster government doesn’t understand the full impact it will have.’
But Labour politicians were castigated by different speakers. Said one: ‘They might have marched near the front but it is inconsistent with what they are doing to the families they are victimising in the learning disability community in Glasgow. Glasgow City Council has these families on its hit list by closing three of the seven day centres they use.’
Another speaker put it more bluntly: ‘Glasgow City Council should be ashamed of themselves. They have influence and power. They should tell all Housing Associations in Glasgow and Glasgow Housing Association that there must be NO EVICTIONS in the city. We need to know who’s side they are on.’
The same speaker highlighted the £100 billion cost of the Trident refit and warheads for Faslane nuclear base. She urged people to support a March on Easter Monday from Glasgow to Faslane which they intended to shut down for the day. ‘All these things are connected. They say there is no money, so attack the poor. But they can spend billions on weapons which can wipe out half of humanity. If we stand together we have the power, strength and determination to stop evictions and end this bedroom tax policy.’
Alan Wyllie of the West of Scotland Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation summed it up for most of the speakers: ‘I’m an ordinary guy and don’t see this as a political fight. I ask what is right and what is wrong? I believe it is wrong that the most vulnerable people are the hardest hit. It is wrong that fuel and food costs are rising while wages and benefits are going down. It is wrong to have this tax on bedrooms when millionaires are having their taxes cut. We are all in this together and must stop evictions. I urge Labour and SNP to protect all Scots. It is your duty!’
He said he’d read all the 2010 election manifestos. ‘There was no mention of the bedroom tax. The Westminster government has no mandate for this,’ he claimed to loud applause from the crowd. ‘We didn’t ask for this. We don’t want it. But the Government is attacking the most vulnerable in our communities. Mark my words: We will unite and we will win.’
He led the way for many different groups to work together against the bedroom tax, by launching a Facebook campaign several months ago.
Speaker John McFarlane said the first round of the battle had been won by Dundee City Council declaring there would be no evictions in their city as a result of the tax. ‘Every council should do the same. MPs and MSPs are supposed to represent us but we have to ask – do they stand for us or do they stand for the Tory bankers? If they do we must remove them!’
Black Triangle speaker David Churchley said: ‘This bedroom tax is unworkable and unmanageable. It’s better for us to get off our knees and fight than not to fight at all.’ Calling for a 24 hour strike he added: ‘It is up to us to keep what has been ours for 100 years. We didn’t cause this crisis but we’re being made to pay for it.’
Daniel McGarrall from the Glasgow against ATOS campaign said that 73 people die each week after being found fit to work by ATOS. He invited listeners to join the demonstrations on the last Friday of each month outside ATOS offices and the Commonwealth Games offices because ATOS is a sponsor of the Glasgow 2014 Games.
He outlined how he and another campaigner face a court trial for campaigning. ‘We are defending the right to protest. And we will not be beaten.’
A spokesman from Govan Law Centre said that the bedroom tax was bringing misery to 100,000 people in Scotland. ‘Around 80% of those affected are disabled. It is wrong that the Government is targetting the most vulnerable people,’ he said, voicing his support to axe the tax and for no evictions.
Mary Lockhart reminded people of the Govan women who fought against the rent increases in 1919 when their menfolk were fighting in the war. ‘They fought the landlords so that their children wouldn’t have to sleep on the floor. They took a stand, got the shipyard workers on their side and said: ‘I will stand by you, if you will stand by me.’ Everyone today needs to be ready to protest and take action and stand by each other.’
As the marchers assembled at Glasgow Green, David Churchley was proudly holding the leading banner with his one good hand – the other being unusable because of a stroke. He said: ‘ I’m on the march because of this appalling, vicious vindictive bedroom tax. If you thought Thatcher’s poll tax was bad; Cameron’s is worse.’ A former IT worker, he has been unable to work since his stroke. He added: ‘My benefit will be reduced by £12 a week. I use my spare room for equipment like my treadmill so that I can do the exercises that keep me reasonably fit.’
Said worker Michael Collins with son Finn (8): ‘We work and pay our taxes so that people can get help when they need it. We don’t want our money to be given to bankers.’
Said student Jennifer Dornan: ‘We must fight to oppose the injustice of the bedroom tax and convince people to do something about it. This attack is on the most vulnerable. We should be gunning for the people in government who can afford it.’
Paul McLaughlin of Glasgow West GAP which has been providing welfare support and advice for 13 years, said: ‘We have to show our real anger and opposition to these charges. People of good conscience can’t let this happen. Everyone must stand up and be counted because individuals are being isolated and made scapegoats. We’ve got to waken people up to the need to organise.’ The advice centre is now located at Kinning Park Complex, 43 Cornwall Street, near Kinning Park underground.
Frank Doyle of Glasgow Against Atos said: ‘This is an unjust society. The bankers get off but there is an assault on the most vulnerable.’
A 23-year-old banner last used in protest against the poll tax, was dusted down and on display by Dundee Fintry fighters.
Said Albert Mitchell: ‘I’ve got a two bedroom house. My benefit of £141 will be reduced by £41 a fortnight. By the time I pay things like my gas and electricity I’m left with £10 a week to live on.’ Colleague Michael MacGregor, who brought the banner out of his cupboard, said: ‘We have the same threat of evictions and bailiffs now as we had in the days of the poll tax.’
Another marcher, called Sarah, of the West of Scotland Anti-bedroom Tax Federation said: ‘There are an awful lot of people worried about the consequences of this terrible tax. A separated couple with joint custody and where the woman receives the child benefit, will find that the man will be penalised for having a bedroom for his own child.’
Fighter Margaret Jaconelli, who was evicted from her East End property because it was in the way of Commonwealth Games development and who wouldn’t accept £30,000 compensation for her home of more than 20 years, was also on the march. ‘This bedroom tax will mean that people will be evicted – just like me. I’m still fighting for justice two years on and haven’t received one penny of compensation.’
Mum Sharon with her two-year-old, was protesting on behalf of a friend who also has a two-year-old. ‘My friend has the wee one and a 14 year old. The two children will have to share one bedroom. Their dad, who is in a new relationship, will have to move into a one bedroom place from his present two bedroom house. He’ll need to sleep on the sofa when his kids come to stay. But where is his new partner expected to sleep? Families aren’t static today and there is no thought given to that.’
Another woman in the crowd told this website’s reporter: ‘I’m not paying the bedroom tax. I’ll put the money by and hope that stops them evicting me. But I’m not paying it.’
Supporters were urged to turn out ‘in your hundreds’ at every local council chambers and Housing Association headquarters on Wednesday 10 April. ‘Give them holy hell,’ said the speaker. ‘Tell them in no uncertain terms we say ‘Axe the bedroom Tax’ and ‘NO’ to evictions.’
An independent report on work done by Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) to re-roof and re-clad properties in their care, has been condemned as ‘whitewash,’ by those who pressed for it.
The report was presented to Glasgow Home Owners and Tenants’ Campaign on Wednesday 12 December by representatives of Michael Dyson Associates Ltd – the company commissioned by the Scottish Government to do the inspection.
They surveyed the exterior of 252 blocks and the interior of 465 properties for signs of defects or deficiences arising from the overcladding installations or re-roofing work or how that work was done. Their report states: ‘We have discovered no evidence of inherent defects within the over-cladding systems or re-roofing works which would give rise to dampness within the properties to which they were applied.’
However, they concluded that there were issues around condensation and mould growth ‘as a direct result of how moisture, ventilation and heating is managed in the properties.’
Said Campaign Chairman, Sean Clerkin: ‘It is an absolute insult to the people who live in these houses to put the blame on them. The company produced no evidence to support their contention instead they say “we believe” this is caused by people who live there.’
Subsequently to the formal presentation of the report, he and the Campaign Committee discussed the findings at length. The Campaign is now advising home owners with dampness to consider action through a Cambuslang legal company, Duffy Toshner.
The Campaign will consider the report findings at their next regular meeting in Jurys Inn Hotel, Jamaica Street, Glasgow on Thursday 31 January 2013 at 7pm.
‘We would encourage all home owners affected by dampness following re-cladding or re-roofing, to come along and hear from Duffy Toshner who are as concerned as we are about these issues.’
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: ‘The First Minister fulfilled his promise to the Campaign that an independent survey would be carried out to assess the work to home owner properties and we are satisfied that this has now been done.
“This is the third survey of the GHA overcladding and re-roofing works. All have confirmed that there are no issues with the overcladding specification or its application.
“We are satisfied that a robust independent survey was carried out which was technically correct and procured in accordance with Scottish Government procedures. Each of the stages of the survey was discussed in detail with the GHA and the Glasgow Home Owners and Tenants’ Campaign to ensure both parties were content with the approach taken.
“We fully appreciate the efforts from both and each co-operated fully. GHA owners and tenants are showing increasing levels of satisfaction with the investment programme.”
GHA’s Executive Director of Development and Regeneration, Alex McGuire, said: “The survey results speak for themselves. There are no inherent defects in the overcladding systems or re-roofing, and no dampness has been caused by any of the work done. We will continue to help and advise tenants and factored home owners who have a problem with condensation.”
The report recommended that all properties should be provided with adequate heating and ventilation and that individual residents should be advised on how to correctly manage moisture through the ventilation and heating within their homes.
However, Sean Clerkin commented: ‘The fight goes on. The report’s major weakness is that it does not give any number for the houses affected by condensation/dampness. That is what this whole issue is about. The report also notes that roof ventilation was not visible in some properties. We’ve pointed out properties where the ventilation was sealed in the course of the work to the building. Another worrying thing from the report is that during the inspection of ‘rainwater goods’ – gutters and the like – the surveyors noted places where guttering and down pipes were blocked or defective. They recommended speedy repair and regular maintenance to ensure this does not become a problem. But there was no quality control. However, the truth will out despite what I believe is a housing mafia trying to prevent it.’
A major survey will be carried out on Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) factored and owned properties to check how effective re-cladding and re-roofing work has been.
A recent high level meeting with Government officials, GHA and the Glasgow Home Owners and Tenants Campaign agreed that such a survey should be carried out.
There have been many complaints from tenants and home owners as evidenced by this website. Re-roofing and overcladding work, once completed, has led to problems of dampness in particular, claim many householders.
A GHA spokesman said: ‘Two independent surveys have been carried out already. The last, by the Building Research Establishment, concluded that dampness found in a very small number of homes was caused by heating and ventilation issues and NOT because of the overcladding work. However, we are co-operating fully with the Scottish Government on a further sample survey and will address any issues identified.’
On behalf of the Home Owners and Tenants Campaign, Sean Clerkin said: ‘This shows that persistence pays. We’ve been campaigning for a survey for more than two years. It is the best possible deal for Glasgow home owners and tenants.’
He commented that had Ian Gray not run away from the Campaign people who lobbied him in Central Station, they would not have gone to Alex Salmond during the election campaign. ‘The First Minister is to be praised. He’s kept his word. Not many politicians do. He said during the campaign when he met us that he would support a survey of the overcladding and re-roofing work if he should be re-elected. And he’s done exactly that.’
Tea was much in evidence at the launch of Glasgow’s booze busting campaign.
The location was the newsagent’s shop and general store in Yoker run by Mrs Nirmal Kaur and her husband Joe Singh who manages their in-store Post Office.
Mrs Kaur had set out a big pot of tea to welcome all her visitors who included Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson and Strathclyde Chief Constable Stephen House who instructed his officers to drink up while he was interviewed by a multitude of media.
The shop is at the forefront of the fight against Glasgow’s alcohol problem.
With a black belt in Karate, Mrs Kaur has floored an attacker with one action. ‘He got six months,’ she said. Other of her customers joke that they wouldn’t dream of trying to steal money or drink from her because she can ‘run faster’ than them. And she has a clutch of medals to prove that too.
She has no hesitation in asking for age ID and has a hot line to the local police office when anything unsavoury happens.
‘I’ve dealt with the public all my life,’ said Mrs Kaur. ‘My husband and I work seven days. And I don’t stand for any nonsense.’
From Saturday 1 October, none of the policing or public agencies will stand for nonsense either.
Strathclyde Police, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Community and Safety Services, Glasgow Housing Association and Strathclyde Fire and Rescue have combined forces to deal more effectively with people whose drinking causes problems to others.
Co-ordinated enforcement measures will be meted out by a dedicated Alcohol Task Force.
Information on problem premises, retailers and people will be shared with tough action promised.
A new community payback scheme is being discussed with the Procurator Fiscal to ensure that people who commit alcohol related offences carry out work in the communities they’ve abused.
Any person or place involved in alcohol-related crime and antisocial behaviour will meet a Zero Tolerance attitude from all the agencies.
And tenants who cause problems or whose children cause problems will be given one month to change their behaviour or they could be evicted.
Said Councillor Matheson: ‘Ordinary decent people – including the vast majority of the licensed trade – are fed up with the misery caused by booze and we are standing up for them. Whether it’s parents who have no idea what their children are up to at night, or shopkeepers who sell alcohol to kids, or people at the weekend who make a fool of themsleves in Glasgow after binge drinking – they need to take responsibility for their actions and they’ve got a month to change their ways. Then we’re cracking down on them.’
Chief Constable House said: ‘Through a multi-agency group we’ve set up, we will gather every available bit of intelligence on the people who are causing misery so that we can take swift action against them. We will work with those who act responsibly and punish those who don’t.’
Among the new ideas worked out by the Booze Busters group are:
Chill Out Hour which will permit certain pubs and clubs to stay open for an extra hour on Fridays and Saturdays to sell hot food, play softer, calming music and dispense only soft drinks and water so that patrons are fitter and in a better frame of mind to go home.
SOS Bus to provide first aid, be a refuge for lost people and a resting place for those who are too drunk to go anywhere. Street Pastors will also be on duty to give pastoral care.
And there is a firm commitment to crack down on the social media services which deliver alcohol to customers at any time of night. Said a spokesman: ‘We will track them. We will target them and we will arrest the people who run them, especially if they are selling to under age people.’
There has been absolutely NO risk of asbestos in work done recently in the Walkinshaw Street area of the city’s East End.
That is what both Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) and the national Health and Safety Executive emphasise. But local residents are still upset and unwilling to accept the reassurances offered.
Refuse chutes are being removed from inside the four storey blocks. On the top level a patch of ceiling has been removed to facilitate the extraction of the head of the chute. Where work has been completed, that area has been plastered over. When this website reporter visited the site on Monday 29 August, four blocks still had the patch open and unplastered, revealing ragged edges on what might have been plasterboard. (see photograph) The fragmenting of the ceiling materials leaves local people fearful that asbestos particles in the artex ceiling coating may have been released.
The GHA spokesman said: ‘We can reassure all residents there was absolutely no asbestos risk during the removal of the refuse chutes. The contractor carried out a full risk assessment ahead of starting the work. The work carried out, complied fully with all health and safety regulations. The Health and Safety Executive also visited the site and was satisfied the work was being carried out safely. Since concerns have been raised with us, we are now writing to residents to reassure them they have no reason for concern during any of the work. The chute area was closed off to residents for a short time when the specialists were on site. Stringent air sampling tests were also carried out before and after the work and there was found to be no risk.’
Local resident John Couper who has been a steel erector and worked in Sellafield among other places where contamination is carefully monitored, said: ‘Asbestos dust is like a microscopic fish hook which, if breathed in, can hook into your lungs and never go away. It might be years later before it shows up.’
His neighbour Bobby McWilliams releated how he saw workmen with an unmarked van pulling a closed container in the area. ‘There was nothing untoward about that. There are workmen here a lot. I saw them removed sheeting and took a photograph of the mess they left on the floor. Later I saw one of them use a domestic type vacuum to hoover up a lot of dust.’
A pilot scheme, which preceded the work done on the bulk of the buildings, was observed by Jim White. ‘I thought they were very slow, only doing one landing a day. But if they were extracting asbestos they would have been slow because they were taking time to do a specialist job.’
Said Community Council Chairman, John Henderson, who chaired a local residents’ meeting on June 30: ‘My wife has a lung condition COPD. I’ve had to take her to stay with our daughter for six days while this work went on. We got fifteen minutes notice of the work starting.. Quite apart from the dust and stoor I am really concerned because the ceiling in these buildings is artex. That has an asbestos element. There was no mention of asbestos at the public meeting. The whole thing is unreal. And should not have happened. We should have been told what the outcome was of the tests in the pilot study and if there was nothing to worry about that should have been stated then. As it was, asbestos was never mentioned.’
An active trade unionist who has often seen contaminated material being disposed of in regulation red bags in an industrial setting, Mr Henderson said: ‘ I saw a red bag with a lot of stuff in it being carried out of my close by a man wearing a heavy respiratory mask. The contractor told me the next day that the asbestos removers were working ahead of his workforce.’
A spokesperson for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said: ‘After being contacted by a local resident, HSE inspectors carried out a site visit to the Walkinshaw Street flats on 24 August. During this visit, Inspectors were satisfied that there was a safe system of work in place for the removal of asbestos.’
But Mr Henderson concluded: ‘I would like to see the details of the test results, which company did them and when the samples were taken and where they were taken from. I’m not letting this go.’