Evictions: All part of the Games strategy…
As the Centre of Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) have shown, when a big new development is attached to a major sporting event, such as an Olympics or Commonwealth Games, people are often forced to move from their homes and relocate their businesses. The Olympic Games alone has displaced over two million of people from host cities around the world through demolitions, higher rents and gentrification (the displacement of poorer residents to make way for wealthier, higher tax-paying residents).
Whether the Games will bring benefits to an area over a short or long time is hotly disputed, but the inevitable reality is that individuals, sometimes whole communities, will be displaced to make way for new facilities. The residents of Dalmarnock (an area which has suffered from serious under-investment) are currently bearing the brunt of this process of displacement to allow Glasgow to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Recently, a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) was served by Glasgow City Council on remaining properties (not already in Council ownership) which are earmarked for demolition to make way for the building of the Athlete’s Village. This includes properties in Ardenlea Street and a number of shops in Springfield Road. The story of the Jaconelli family who live in Ardenlea Street, indicates the Council’s lack of consideration for local people as pressure mounts to keep the Games on budget and on schedule.
Before a CPO is served, the Council are required to ‘negotiate’ with property owners and come to a just and reasonable compensation for their property. In the case of Mrs Margaret Jaconelli and her family, who are long-time residents of Ardenlea Street, this has not been the case. As she watches the land across the road from her be sold for millions of pounds per hectare, Mrs Jaconelli is still waiting for a reasonable offer for her property from the Council, and for a proper negotiation to take place. She and her family have been the only occupiers of the last remaining tenement building in Ardenlea Street for the past 6 years. The winters are cold and damp with empty flats all around, and the family are unable to take a holiday for fear of leaving it vacant.
Mrs Jaconelli and her family remain, not because they want to, but because the Council has failed to provide a proper offer of compensation. They would much prefer to have been settled in a new home, and for all the uncertainty to be over. Many of the businesses around the corner in Springfield Road are facing the same problem, with long delays in compensation forthcoming and the prospect of a legal battle ahead to achieve some kind of justice. The Council have not replied to the various letters of objection to the CPO for the Athlete’s Village site and it is difficult to say when Mrs Jaconelli and others affected by the CPO will be able to get on with their lives. Meanwhile, they have to live in a derelict area which is deteriorating day by day. It’s time the Council played fair, and gave these residents what’s due to them.
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