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Revealed: Details of scrapped flats plan ceremony

Glasgow's Red Road flats were to have been blown up after a dramatic countdown relayed by giant screens to spectators and athletes at the start of the opening ceremony.

spectacle: An artist's impression of the elaborate ceremony that will launch the Glasgow Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park.
spectacle: An artist's impression of the elaborate ceremony that will launch the Glasgow Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park.

Organisers had previously claimed the explosions, called off after a campaign against the plan, would have only formed "one small part" of the event and refused to reveal their exact role in the Celtic Park festivities on July 23.

But documents reveal the demolition would have followed a countdown on huge screens, with dry ice then filling the stadium immediately after five of the remaining six blocks were reduced to rubble.

The development came as Glasgow 2014 chief executive David Grevemberg admitted for the first time public opposition played a part in the decision not to go ahead with it. The organisers previously said the decision was made for health, safety and security reasons.

Mr Grevemberg told website, Inside The Games: "After the debates and the various conversations around the concept we decided to move in a different direction.

"It was a combination of safety concerns and obviously there was a lot of debate around [the demolition plan] and we wanted this to be a commemorative moment and not a moment of protest.These things are about people and people have strong viewpoints."

He added: "I think we were a little audacious and bold in the concept initially and we said that from the very beginning."

The orginal plan for the demolition was set out in a memo by a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) official after a meeting on March 10 with demolition contractors Safedem and tower owners Glasgow Housing Association (GHA).

It stated: "Glasgow 2014 have come up with a plan for the opening ceremony at Celtic Park that includes a section where there will be video links of old Glasgow moving forward to new Glasgow with the theme Glasgow is changing.

"The plan is that on a countdown from five to one the big screens at Celtic Park will show images of Glasgow and then on one it will switch to Red Road flats and they will be blown down.

"As the cloud of dust rises from the Red Row [sic] site, dry ice will fill Celtic Park and that will signal the start of the opening ceremony. I believe that this has been in the planning for months."

The plan was abandoned after strong public opposition, with critics saying it would be tasteless. More than 17,000 people signed an online petition calling for a u-turn.

Organisers backed down after Police Scotland deputy chief constable Steve Allen, the security director for the Games, wrote to chair of the organising committee, Lord Smith of Kelvin, warning protestors may create "an iconic protest site under the gaze of a world-wide television audience".

Carolyn Leckie, who led the successful campaign against the proposal, said: "It doesn't sound like there was any sensitivity at all or any awareness it would have led to any mixed feeling.

"I don't know what kind of world they were inhabiting when they came up with this."

The former former co-­chairwoman of the Scottish Socialist Party added: "It's just tacky and I'm awfully glad they cancelled it.

"I'm astonished this plan ever saw the light of day. It must have been discussed by different people and at different stages, but the people on the street could see it immediately for the farce it was."

Concerns had also been raised over the safety of incorporating a large-scale demolition into the opening ceremony.

Typically in the demolition industry, publicity is discouraged and demolitions are carried out with little fanfare to discourage spectators. It is believed the HSE was uneasy with the proposal and it considered nominating an inspector to "be involved".

Its note, dated March 10, said demolition experts Safedem and GHA had been warned the safety of the demolition "must be the number one priority with Safedem deciding if the button can be pressed and not some TV director. They assured me that contingency plans will be in place."

A letter from the HSE to Safedem, dated April 1, emphasised it had not approved the blowdown, saying it was not its role to do so.

The letter added: "It must continue to be seen as first and foremost as a high-risk demolition activity and not a publicity stunt.

"You must not allow external pressures or influences to put the safety of the demolition at risk. The decision to fire rests with you and safety should not be jeopardised to suit a third-party deadline.

"You advised that normally you know one hour in advance if the blowdown will proceed on time and you did not expect this project to be any different.

"At that stage if safety is not assured then the CWG will have to revert to a standby solution. I urge you to maintain that control measure."

A Glasgow 2014 spokeswoman said: "The blowdown would have lasted approximately 15 seconds and would have taken place at a key moment in the ceremony, but was by no means the sole focus of the ceremony itself.

"Creative planning from the outset included a version of the ceremony minus the demolition should that aspect have been unable to take place for any reason, which is where our focus is now."

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