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Commonwealth Games ceremony set to be explosive as Glasgow's Red Road flats are demolished live

THE opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games is quite literally going to be explosive - as Glasgow's Red Road Flats will be demolished in spectacular style.

The skyline in the north east of the city will change dramatically at the opening ceremony, which takes place at Glasgow's Celtic Park on Wednesday, July 23 as the blocks of flats are taken down.

The blow-down of five of the six remaining blocks, at one time the tallest residential structures in Europe, will take just 15 seconds and be the biggest demolition of its kind ever seen in Europe.

This spectacular event will be beamed live into Celtic Park via the record-breaking 100 metre-wide screen occupying the entire south stand of the stadium, creating Glasgow's 'Window to the Commonwealth'. It will form part of the opening ceremony, the curtain raiser to the largest sporting and cultural event Scotland has ever hosted.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "The Opening Ceremony will be the moment when we welcome the world to Glasgow. It will be a ceremony like no other, showcasing our city's unique style and personality and with our people and communities at its very heart. We are going to wow the world, with the demolition of the Red Road flats set to play a starring role.

"Red Road has an iconic place in Glasgow's history, having been home to thousands of families and dominating the city's skyline for decades. Their demolition will all but mark the end of high-rise living in the area and is symbolic of the changing face of Glasgow, not least in terms of our preparations for the Games."

An estimated television audience of more than one billion people around the world will also bear witness as the 30-storey blocks fall spectacularly to the ground, transforming the city's skyline forever. And, while this will serve as an unforgettable statement of how Glasgow is confidently embracing the future and changing for the better, it is also intended to serve as a respectful recognition and celebration of the role the Red Road flats have played in shaping the lives of thousands of city families for whom these flats have simply been home over five decades.

Local residents living in 887 homes nearby the Red Road site will be temporarily evacuated during the event and will be invited to join in the Commonwealth Games opening celebrations, either by soaking up the atmosphere at the fantastic Commonwealth Games Live Event within Glasgow Green or by attending local venues that will be open to them throughout the evacuation period. Glasgow City Council Leader Gordon Matheson has written about the plans to each household affected.

The blocks, owned by Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), were originally due to be demolished over the next two years. However GHA was keen to explore the possibility of bringing five down at once to minimise the number of times residents had to be evacuated. One block - 33 Petershill Court - is currently used to house asylum seekers and will come down later.

Eileen Gallagher, Independent Director on the Glasgow 2014 Board and Chair of the Ceremonies, Culture and Queen's Baton Relay Committee said: "By sharing the final moments of the Red Road flats with the world as part of the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, Glasgow is proving it is a city that is proud of its history but doesn't stand still. A city that is constantly regenerating, renewing and re-inventing itself.'

"Glasgow's story is always one of its people; their tenacity, their genuine warmth, their ambitions. Marking the end of Red Road is very much a celebration of all of those things."

GHA Chairman Gordon Sloan said: "The Red Road flats were very popular in their day and hold a special place in many people's hearts. But they are just no longer viable as modern homes and GHA made the decision to demolish them as part of the wider regeneration of the north of Glasgow.

"We will bring them down in strictly controlled conditions, with the expertise of our contractor Safedem. We would like to thank everyone in the local community for their continued support and co-operation throughout the demolition of the blocks and we hope as many people as possible will enjoy the great Commonwealth Games celebration events on July 23."

A unique opportunity presented itself to bring the five blocks down during the Commonwealth Games and Glasgow City Council, Glasgow 2014, GHA and demolition contractor Safedem have been collaborating on the exciting prospect of bringing the two projects together.

A number of key supporting stakeholders are also working in partnership to make it possible including NG Homes, Police Scotland, British Transport Police, Network Rail and First ScotRail and the Health and Safety Executive.

Safety will be paramount as the blocks are demolished under strictly controlled conditions using more than 1250kg of explosives, by demolition experts Safedem, who successfully brought down two of the Red Road blocks in 2012 and 2013. The blow-down will only take place during the Opening Ceremony if and when it is safe to do so.

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