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Wagons circling round the square

YOU can't please all of the people all of the time.

Or even some of the people some of the time. So just please yourself. At least, that's the motto Glasgow City Council is championing with its George Square redesign, the six proposals for which have caused a right old stooshie.

Various charges have been laid at the City Chambers door: Glasgow's residents not consulted, no female or community judges and the galloping speed of the judging process. Only 42 locals were asked their opinion from 600,000.

At the risk of using two cliches in a small space, you find out who your friends are in a crisis and that adage has certainly turned true in the case of George Square. A passing place and thoroughfare, the square seemed slightly unloved and under-used. But now the council proposes changes everyone and their granny has an opinion on the place.

A likeness of the old George Square, back when it was verdant, with trees and manicured flower beds, has been posted on Facebook as option seven –to restore, not redesign, the Square. So far, it's had several thousands likes and shares, giving it several thousand more thumbs up than the council's six proposals have received.

A historian told me this week George Square started life as a pond where our forefathers rid themselves of animal carcasses, much like shopping trolleys in town centre canals. This casts a bit of a shadow over those designs with water features. The other issue is the statues.

For those shedding molten copper tears over their loss: name them. Here: Sir Walter Scott, arrived from Edinburgh; the Germanic Queen Victoria and her consort Albert; and English PMs Peel and Gladstone. I have no objection to their removal but replacement likenesses of Glasgow natives should be sought.

The old photo is just as I remember George Square when my gran used to bring me into "the town". It was off the train at Queen Street, ice cream bought and a seat on the grass in the sunny weather, for isn't it always sunny in one's remembered youth? One day the Queen went past, declining a bite of my Magnum, on her way to open the Gallery of Modern Art.

Glasgow has poor recent form in making George Square, which I also learned this week is A-listed, amenable to the populace. Its last refurbishment, in 1998, saw a red tarmac surface laid, a statement of commercial intent. Commercialism is the issue. The council has no interest in creating a vibrant public space for the city's people. This is reflected in its judging panel, including Gordon Matheson, also chairman of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, a body with a role that is as it says on the tin, and Geoff Ellis, of T in the Park fame, presumably involved due to his events nous. The thing is pitched to the business community, prioritising the square as commodity rather than space for the people who live and work here.

From reading internet chatter the people of Glasgow want a dear, green space and some statues. It seems very little to ask.

Recent rammies over Aberdeen and Perth city spaces give hope. If our northern citizenry can catch the ears of their elected members and force them to listen then so, hopefully, can we.

Letters: Page 12

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Local government

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