Vancouver Hands ‘Poverty Games’ Torch to Glasgow
Below is the press release we sent out to the media today. Apart from a BBC crew making a long-term documentary about the Games, none of them deigned to turn up – even after we’d done all the research they either can’t be bothered to do, are told not to do, or are too scared to do. We even kept the dodgy land deals story out of it.
Well, cynicism about the media is second nature to us all (and the need for independent media is all too apparent), but something did happen today in the East End and we were there to record it: the Jaconelli family, Save the Accord Campaigners, the Glasgow Anti-Eviction Alliance and the Scottish Tenants Organisation all marched in solidarity with supporters over the decimation of community in Dalmarnock. We’ll be following up with a more detailed story soon. For now, here’s the press release and some photos from the day.
Today, visiting delegates from Poverty Olympics Vancouver handed over the ‘Poverty Torch’ to citizens of Dalmarnock in Glasgow. The event symbolises the gross inequality of Olympics and Commonwealth Games events, which entail massive expenditure of public and private money, at the same time as deep cuts to key local services, and rising unemployment.
Poverty Olympics Vancouver began in 2008 as concerns mounted about the impact of the Winter Olympics on Vancouver’s poorest residents. Organisers stress the importance of exposing meagre public spending to address poverty while billions are spent on the Games.
At the last estimate, Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games are costing the public purse a total of £523.6 million, a figure that had risen by 40% from the original budget of £373 million. There are still two years to go, and if other mega-sporting events are anything to go by we can expect that budget to rise even more – the bill for London’s Olympics has increased by a shocking £9 billion since first estimates in 2007. In Glasgow, the scale is different, but the issues are the same. Glasgow City Council recently announced it has committed to spend an extraordinary £14million on the opening and closing ceremonies alone. That’s £14m on a big party while the most needy, the most vulnerable, in our community face the massively unjust challenges of life during economic crisis. Some legacy.
Margaret Jaconelli, Secretary of the Glasgow Anti-Eviction Alliance, stated “We are the residents and businesses of this area, this is our home. We will not allow the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council to treat some of its most vulnerable citizens with this disrespect and disregard. We will stand up and fight for a place to call home that can include everybody here, jobs and housing for all – not just the rich.”
Mike Dailly, Principal Solicitor of the Govan Law Centre said: “it’s not fair there’s discriminatory treatment between householders and commercial entities, whether in the Commonwealth Games Village or elsewhere in Scotland. Communities must be treated fairly and reasonably by public authorities and their rights should not be overlooked, sidestepped or ridden over, for commercial reasons”.
Residents and campaigners from Dalmarnock handed on the torch to be taken to London in time for the 2012 Olympics for events organised by London Coalition Against Poverty.
 Gerry Braiden and Helen Puttick, Friday, 21 May, 2010, The Herald: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/games-bill-rises-70m-as-experts-cast-doubt-on-benefits-1.1029423
 Tom Peck, Friday 9th March, The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/olympics/olympic-games-run-2bn-over-budget-7546201.html