You wonder if the overarching aim of Glasgow City Council is to abolish the right of its people to roam about at will and instead install a regime where your only right is to shop and spend.
In the last issue of The Burgh Angel we reported how the fancy Mondriaan estate in Ruchill had been fenced off on its east side thereby depriving locals of a precious public space they once enjoyed. Well we are happy to inform readers that someone has taken matters into their own hands and removed parts of the fence so once again children can take pleasure in the wholesome activities of exploring nature and fishing for tiddlers – how childhood should be.
The fence was in any case erected without planning permission, which was however granted retrospectively because Steve Inch, Director of Development & Regeneration Services thinks it is consistent with the council’s aims. That much is true, given that the council’s aim is to abolish green space and everything that goes into developing healthy children.
More evidence of the council’s true purposes is easy to find. At the corner of Stockingfield junction in Maryhill, where the canal branches into two, is the site of the former 9 hole golf course. This was closed by the council years ago and the site has been returning to nature of its own accord during that time. In 2006 the “regeneration” of the golf course was begun.
If you go to the website of Ann Nevett landscape architects, they tell you: “The vandalised 9 hole Ruchill Golf Course closed by Glasgow City Council is being redeveloped and extended to provide a flagship community golf training facility, unique on the UK mainland.
The overall aim is ‘To restore through redevelopment of the golf course, a heart to the community which provides training, tuition and facilities for all.”
( http://www.anla.co.uk/news_ruchill.html )
It is interesting that redevelopment always follows on from discovering that an area has been vandalised, run down or from becoming a brown field site needing regeneration. In fact the area was none of these: It was an area that had been successfully reclaimed by nature and was particularly rich in deer, foxes, bird life, variety of tree species and plant life.
A rich ecosystem was developing and precious top soil was being laid down millimetre by millimetre. Top soil is the most precious substance in the ecology of the planet. Without it, little plant life is possible. It takes approximately 500 years for one inch of topsoil to be deposited. Nevertheless one day in 2006 the bulldozers came in and unceremoniously scrapped away the surface and destroyed the trees growing in it, leaving a great black crater of destruction. The space for the golf course was ready.
It is with less than complete authenticity then that Ann Nevett claims “The benefits this project can deliver to the local and wider community are substantial: Environmental by retaining and managing an important open space for enhanced amenity and wildlife value, and retaining existing stone for use in the redevelopment of the golf course.”
In fact the development is no better for the people of the area than its wildlife. Where once people could roam freely across the connecting park land into the former golf course there is now steel fence of substantial proportions that is clearly serious about keeping people out and preventing them enjoying the pleasures of fresh air.
The environmental credentials of the project are further undermined in the following, again from the Ann Nevett website: “900m of tunnels and cuttings of the former Lanarkshire and Dumbarton Railway between the course and the canal and running through the site to Maryhill will be infilled. The adjacent cutting of the Ruchill Branch of the former North British Railway will also be filled for the new car park.”
In these days of global warming we should not be filling in old railway cuttings and tunnels. We should at the very least be converting them to cycle paths or restoring the railways that used to use be there. Those tunnels are a great historical resource that once destroyed will never return. They where dug with the sweat and blood of thousands of labourers. They are irreplaceable and almost of as great a value as the topsoil so irresponsibly destroyed.
Neither should we be building car parks on former railways. Railways on former car parks, yes, not the opposite. Yet again a private company is calling the shots and the council is lying back and giving the green light to anything that brings in cash, no matter how damaging it is to the environment or to communities.