In 2014, Glasgow intends to host the Commonwealth Games.
In 2007 and 2008, Glasgow intends to prepare for that great event by selling off football pitches at Maryhill Road, North Kelvinside; Acre Road, Summerston; and Cowlairs Park, Springburn.
Pitches next to recently closed primary schools are also planned to be built over.
Normally cities which host international sporting events squander huge sums of money on the razzmatazz - but at least leave their citizens with decent sports facilities as a leftover. Sydney’s open-to-the-public Olympic swimming pool is world famous for producing swimming champions from out of the Australian working class.
But Glasgow plans to buck the trend by being the first city to waste the money but at the same time cut public sports facilities. The plans are that a few sports facilities will get a much needed facelift – but many more will be sold off for private housing, all under cover of preparation for the Commonwealth Games.
The pitches at Queen Margaret Drive / Maryhill Road are fully booked. They are among the few in Glasgow with floodlights and changing rooms. Queens Cross Housing Association has just lodged a planning application to build 100 flats – mostly for private sale – on the site where North Kelvinside Secondary School stood. Glasgow City Council has just ruled those pitches ‘surplus to requirements’, putting money ahead of youth facilities.
That's if we let them. With a strong local campaign, a public local planning inquiry can be won. Scottish Executive rules are that pitches should not be closed without creation of new ‘like for like’ provision.
CLOUSTON STREET / ‘COMPENDIUM’ PARK
The Clouston Street pitches are a great success story for the local community.
Ten years ago the Council tried to sell off the pitches for private housing. A huge local campaign forced a public local (planning) inquiry. The inquiry ruled that the Clouston Street pitches must be kept forever.
But the victory was not that easy. Glasgow City Council were furious they had lost. They refused to re-open the changing rooms or even maintain the pitches. Alcohol and drug users moved in to the old changing rooms – with the Council turning a blind eye. The pitches became covered with rubbish including used needles and broken bottles. The City Council hoped to sicken people so much that they would agree to let the site be sold for housing.
But local residents would not give in. And now they have finally won - £1.25M is to be spent refurbishing Clouston Street Pitches. 20% of the site will be lost to private housing – through Queens Cross Housing Association. But the rest will become a new ‘Compendium Park’, with:
• a 7 a side football/hockey pitch
• three multi-courts
• team based changing accommodation
• cricket/golf nets
• extended jogging track
• external fitness area/gym
• reflection zone for tai chi, yoga (!)
• climbing wall
• 100m sprint track and warm up area.
But the long overdue refurbishment of Clouston Street should not be a replacement for the North Kelvinside pitches. Ten years ago, both facilities were in use.
Eight years ago St. Augustine’s Secondary in Milton was closed. Within 48 hours the Council had moved in to demolish the attached swimming baths and changing rooms. The Council had heard that locals were planning to occupy them to save it for the community. A few weeks later, the Council granted planning permission to itself to sell off the entire St. Augustine’s playing fields for private housing.
But local people wouldn’t stand for that. Clouston Street campaigners travelled over to offer planning advice. Partick Thistle Football Club – who trained on those pitches – gave their support. After a long campaign, a public local planning inquiry was granted. The inquiry lasted a full week, but in the end the Council was beaten. St. Augustine’s pitches were ordered saved forever.
Again, the Council were furious. They left the pitches to rot, with no changing rooms, no goalposts, no maintenance. They hoped people would give up and allow the private housing. But local people have kept fighting, and believe changing rooms and newly marked out pitches could soon be won.