Glasgow 2014 and deprived Communities: Who wins and who loses?
When I first saw that Glasgow had won the bid to host the Commonwealth Games it was an exciting development for the city. As a person who was born in the South-East outskirts of the city it is a real glimpse of opportunism for the city. As a child when I visited, my Grandmother and I would take the bus from Halfway to Buchanan Bus Station, one noticeable sight which always grabbed my attention was the Gorbals. The Gorbals is a notorious Scheme on the outskirts of the city centre which has been associated with violence and poverty. It was a giant, bleak symbol of poverty in Glasgow. Now the area has been redeveloped, there is a brand new swimming complex just in time for 2014.
The problem is who actually wins from these games? The residents of these deprived communities known locally as the Schemes, the games sponsors or the middle classes. The problem is with these sporting events having been the opportunity for the resident’s voices to be heard. London 2012 saw an Olympic games more concerned with appealing to the sponsors and in Brazil people are being turfed out of nearby Favelas to make way for the World Cup Stadium. Will these repercussions happen in Glasgow? I hope not.
In such areas like the Gorbals, Bridgeton and Govan, the areas have been long neglected and have felt the full brunt of poverty. Thatcher firstly shut the ship building in the Clyde and the shift from a manufacturing economy to a service economy had a drastic, negative effect on these communities. The point is that these areas have not seen opportunity and investment until now. Glasgow 2014 in many ways hopes by promoting the games as a cultural celebration of Glasgow it will appeal to tourists and create awareness of Glasgow to potential developers.
Glasgow is the most deprived and violence city in the U.K., It has one of the worst life expectancies in Europe as well. This has been due a toxic cocktail of unemployment, poverty, social exclusion and ill-health in these areas. These areas need development, they need positive publicity and they most importantly need opportunities for the local people. The portrayal of these areas by the media is also hampering the opportunities for regeneration and development. Referring to people in the Schemes as NEDS (Non Educated Delinquents), benefits scroungers, thugs, alcoholics and junkies is not going to improve Glasgow’s perceived “No Mean City” tag.
The Games need to better address these issues instead of concentrating on tourism. Glasgow 2014 brushes these issues aside to talk about Scottish culture. The beggar ban by Glasgow City Council is a further attempt to improve the city’s image for tourism. The Games help to bring Global attention to Glasgow but at what cost? Where do the people come in to the equation? I was born in this great city but the deliberate attempt to exclude the poor disheartens me. Glasgow’s poor are definitely the losers. However we should not forget that the poor have an impact on Glasgow’s History and Culture, they should be the one of the Winners instead of just corporations’ and the middle classes.