Sauchiehall Street traders slam no show leaders as no use

Sauchiehall Street traders have slammed Glasgow City Council for its inaction, lack of leadership and the absence of information in the wake of two devastating fires, which have turned the once thriving retail area into a disaster zone.

George Rogers, owner of Mac’s cobblers and locksmith, said, “Local authorities have a statutory duty to make dangerous buildings safe as quickly as possible.

“It’s been four months since the fire at Victoria’s nightclub and a month since the fire at the Glasgow School of Art. If these buildings haven’t been made safe by now why not?! If they have been made safe why hasn’t the council re-opened Sauchiehall Street?

“I’m one of the lucky ones on Sauchiehall Street. My takings are down by nearly 30 per cent a week but at least my business is open. It’s a shocking state of affairs for people who live in the exclusion zone or own a business there. There are people who have been turfed out of their flats with just the clothes on their backs.

“Glasgow City Council is providing virtually nothing in the way of practical help and less than nothing in the way of information and updates.

“Sauchiehall Street was one of Glasgow’s main retail thoroughfares but now people are being left to dodge down back alleys to get past the street closures. The council needs to get on board with retailers to tell people that Sauchiehall Street is open for business and make it a reality on the ground.

“So far we have heard nothing from Glasgow City Council about its plans or the timetable for letting traders and residents back into the exclusion zone. We have held two public meetings to try and get a handle on the situation. Seventy eight traders and local residents attended the last meeting but neither the Council Leader, Susan Aitken, or the Lord Provost, Eva Bolander, turned up, despite being invited.

“No show leaders are no use.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that Glasgow City Council is only interested in generating headlines with inadequate offers of assistance.

“Reducing the business rates is a potentially useful step but business rates are only one element of the equation. It is constructive help that we need. We need customers to generate income but the whole area is a no-go zone.

“What has become abundantly clear from the last two public meetings we have held is just how bad Glasgow City Council is at dealing with disasters like this. There is a total lack of leadership and no plans or strategies in place to deal with this kind of incident. The Building Control Department is simply ignoring enquiries.

“Every council has a civil contingencies team which should have an emergency plan in place to deal with major incidents. We have suffered not one but two massive fires. Sauchiehall Street is now effectively sealed off with no indication of when businesses will be able to re-open or when local residents might be able to get back into their homes.

“Both of these fires are unique incidents and should come under disaster funding and relief. They should not be looked upon as a hand out to the businesses affected. Any assistance to the numerous struggling businesses is an investment in the future of Glasgow. Sauchiehall Street must re-open soon. BoConcept is the latest to leave. If things don’t change soon there won’t be any businesses left. The only people making money on Sauchiehall Street right now are the mobile crane operators.

“Glasgow City Council seems to be blind to the scale of what is going on. The council is so concerned with trying to salvage what’s left of the School of Art that it has lost sight of the fact that there are people on the streets because their homes are in the exclusion zone.”

The Sauchiehall Street traders are seeking answers from the council to a number of questions and have made a series of suggestions which they feel could improve the situation.

Notes to editors:

Below is the detailed list of questions that the Sauchiehall Street traders would like to see addressed by Glasgow City Council:

  1. Has the council a business recovery plan? If so, has this been costed and will the council be contacting the Scottish and UK Governments in terms of any additional funding that would be available for both the regeneration of the area and all affected businesses?
  2. Is there any agreement in place to have the Traders Market, take over Sauchiehall Street again between now and next year?
  3. Has the council managed to arrange any banners or advertising for the surrounding streets? If not, how long will this take?
  4. When is the demolition proposed for the former British Home Stores premises and if possible, could this be delayed? If so could the frontage of this be used for information purposes?
  5. Is it possible to have large LED screens, truck mounted in Sauchiehall Street prior to the reopening of Sauchiehall Street?
  6. Is the Victoria’s Nightclub building etc going to be boarded up or scaffolded? If yes could there possibly be a decorative scrim put over these boards/scaffold?
  7. For the reopening of the street, will this area be properly cleaned, potentially having flower baskets etc in place to make this more attractive?
  8. How long will the rates release be offered? Will this only be for the denial of access period or until the businesses reopen again or could we potentially ask for this to be for the remainder of the year?
  9. What about rates relief for businesses that are still trading but have been badly affected by the lack of footfall. The MSPs said they would speak to the rates assessor but there’s been no communication since. What progress has been made?