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Glasgow's red square to stay until after the 2014 Games

GLASGOW'S George Square is unlikely to have its unpopular red tarmac surface ripped up before the showpiece 2014 Commonwealth Games.

John McAslan. Picture: Jamie Simpson
John McAslan. Picture: Jamie Simpson

Senior sources at the city council say there is an increasing likelihood of little, if anything, changing in Glasgow's main civic space by next summer amid concerns of the durability of a new surface, timescales and engineering headaches thrown up by the square's slope.

The surface, put in place in the late 1990s, is the main feature the public is believed to want changed.

However, there are now warnings there will only be a minor sprucing up before the event across late July and early August of next year.

But John McAslan, whose company's designs were named the winner of the £15 million competition to redesign the central Glasgow square last month, before council leader Gordon Matheson cancelled the process, said he believed a radical revamp was still possible ahead of the Games.

Mr McAslan was speaking after a public meeting in the square yesterday morning attended by architects, heritage groups, campaigners and at least one city councillor.

He said he would present his findings to Mr Matheson when they meet next Monday.

He also said that he remained optimistic of being involved in any redesign of the square.

Mr McAslan said: "I have no idea where the council has got to with its revised plans but I plan to ask them to show me what they've got and I can show where we've got to. I've never been in a situation where I've been unable to work with people.

"I don't believe resurfacing is a major project and it can be done in the timescale before the Games. Soft landscaping could also be put in. It remains achievable. Surface issues are always there for any public space which has to accommodate traffic of any sort.

"It's all down to the ambition of Glasgow City Council to do the work. The Commonwealth Games is just one event but the square can be ready."

However, one senior council source said: "There are real doubts that the red tarmac will be lifted and gone by the time of the Games.

"Caithness stone, which most of the designers wanted, would break under the weight of heavy vehicles setting up events. There's also a major slope the naked eye can't see but which is a major engineering concern.

"Where we are now is a bit of a clean up, a load more benches, little more and the real work happening after the Games."

Mr McAslan also said the meeting threw up a spread of views on how to progress with the square, although there was a consensus more green space was preferable to water features.

The Glasgow-born architect said there remained a division of opinion on the future of the statues, calling for a consultation on what should be done.

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