Documentation of recent occupation of the Chris Hoy Velodrome by Disability Rights Campaigners protesting the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council’s decision to allow ATOS to sponsor the 2014 Commonwealth Games
In a context of deepening attacks on welfare and the seemingly terminal reduction of social housing, we ask whose future is being imagined and produced in the East End.
Articles focus on the housing legacy of the Commonwealth Games Village; the despised ‘bedroom tax'; social housing deficit in the East End; and the use of CPOs as a tool of displacement and gentrification.
Today members of Black Triangle and Citizen’s United against Public Sector Cuts held a major street protest outside Councillor Archie Graham’s house to demand that he, as the executive member of Glasgow City Council responsible for the organisation of the Commonwealth Games, drop ATOS as a sponsor for the games.
This is the home that he shares with his wife, Johann Lamont MSP, the Scottish Labour Leader, who claims, on the Scottish Parliament website, to have a particular interest in the rights of disabled people.
The Work Capability Assessment process administered by ATOS is widely acknowledged to be humiliating and degrading, to have serious – and in many cases fatal – effects on people’s mental and physical health, and to be grossly inaccurate in assessing people’s capability to work. According to the UK Government’s own figures, 1,300 people have died after being put into the work-related activity group and 2,200 people have died before their assessment was complete. ATOS are unfit to be sponsors of the Commonwealth Games because ATOS KILLS
From Local Glasgow News:-
January 24, 2013 by Grace Franklin
The protesters outside the building where they occupied Scottish Office premises for an hour.
Protesters invaded Scottish Government offices today in Glasgow to highlight their concerns that ATOS is a sponsor of the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Said a spokesman for Citizens United Against Cuts to Public Services: ‘Across the country, hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people are being railroaded into abusive and degrading assessments to determine they are ‘fit for work’ by ATOS. The Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) has given this task to the profit-making French multinational company ATOS which is being paid more than £100 million a year to cut the number of people on benefits. We want ATOS removed from involvement in the Commonwealth Games.’
Another of the protesters said a member of his family worked as a carer for sick and disabled people. ‘They have witnessed ATOS tests and the effect it has on people. They are being assessed as suitable for work when they have to have 24 hour care. That’s why I’m here today. It is simply wrong what is happening.’
One protester who is a retired civil servant added: ‘There are serious issues around ATOS and the fact that they are able to access people’s health records which are supposed to be confidential. Also, until now, a doctor decides when a patient is fit to work again. Why should this French company decide this now? They are not doctors and don’t know the patient.’
A Scottish Office statement issued later said:
“The Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee appointed ATOS, the international IT services company and worldwide IT partner to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as their technology sponsor. Glasgow 2014 assesses commercial and sponsorship proposals on a number of criteria to ensure best value for the 2014 Games. Securing the right sponsors is vital to the success of the event.”
Around 15 protesters walked into Scottish Government offices in Highlander House, Waterloo Street on Thursday morning and stayed for about one hour making their protest with slogans and banners. After police attended, they left peaceably.
At the end of last year, the same group invaded the offices of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in Albion Street. At that time, a spokesman for the Games said: “We are very proud to have global IT experts Atos as part of Glasgow 2014’s sponsor family. As a worldwide IT partner for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the company has demonstrated unwavering commitment to driving forward the Paralympic movement by providing dedicated practical support to athletes for the last ten years.
“An important consideration for us is how a sponsor will contribute to the mission and ambitions of Glasgow 2014 and we are confident in the positive role Atos will play in helping us deliver an athlete centred and sports focused Commonwealth Games.”
When asked for a comment on Thursday’s invasion of the Glasgow Scottish Office premises, the Games spokeman re-issued the same statement.
Article by Glasgow Housing Action, Scottish Left Review, Issue 74
Authors: Eoin Anderson, Neil Gray, Emily Roff
Urban struggles around social reproduction and social space have traditionally been seen as ancillary on the left. But in a city hollowed out by the collapse of its manufacturing base, we argue that the redevelopment of George Square in Glasgow is symptomatic of contemporary urban enclosure, the privatisation of space, and an inflationary rentier economy [...]
Read full article here
And more in the rest of the SLR special issue, What’s a City For? here
The council are pressing ahead with plans to “redesign” George Square, at a cost of £15m. As ever, the redevelopment has little to do with what’s good for the people of Glasgow, and everything to do with the neo-liberal restructuring of our public space.
Protest against George Square redesign – as reported in the Herald
CAMPAIGNERS are organising a rally against the £15 million plans to redesign Glasgow’s George Square.
Almost 1000 people have pledged to attend the February 2 protest, following disquiet about the haste with which the plans have been made public and the decision taken.
There has also been growing unease over the consultation, described by the city council’s leader as extensive, but which involved interviews with no more than 42 members of the public.
It comes as Glasgow SNP MSP Sandra White lodged a petition at Holyrood criticising a number of aspects of the six plans, one of which is to be selected later this week, and will only be partly completed in time for the 2014 Games.
Ms White’s motion “condemns what it sees as the shortage of information and severe lack of public consultation” on the plans.
The campaigners insist they do not oppose change but are demonstrating “to halt the George Square reconstruction to allow more time for consultation and more designs which are for the people of Glasgow and not for the private sector to be put forward”.
A statement on the campaign’s Facebook page said: “The current designs are clearly an attempt to turn our most important civic space into a commercialised area.”
A council spokesman said the two biggest parties in the council, Labour and SNP, had campaigned in the election to redevelop the square and this was unanimously passed by the authority’s executive committee.
More info at: https://www.facebook.com/events/137148319777367/
There were a number of actions against ATOS and it’s subsidiary ATOS Healthcare in 2012. 2013 looks set to be no different as today campaigners from Black Triangle, Citizens United Against Public Service Cuts and Glasgow Against ATOS joined forces to try to convince deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon to get ATOS dropped as a sponsor for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The group stated their concern about the role ATOS plays in heaping misery upon disabled people by subjecting them to humiliating Work Capability Tests to get them off benefits. They then suggested that the Scottish Government and the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee find a more ethical company to sponsor the games in 2014.
(From the Sunday Herald – Tom Gordon – Scottish Political Editor)
Nicola Sturgeon personally welcomed Atos as an official sponsor of Glasgow 2014 last year, calling the French IT giant’s involvement “a significant step forward for the Games”.
The company will supply the software to accredit up to 70,000 athletes, volunteers and officials, and run the Glasgow 2014 website.
Sturgeon is also the Scottish Government’s leading voice on welfare issues – last week she announced an expert group to help devise a welfare system reflecting “Scottish values” and fairness under independence instead of the cuts being imposed by Westminster.
At the demonstration the protestors stated that Atos could not be further from those Scottish values, given its central role in the UK government’s welfare reforms.
Atos Healthcare has a £110 million annual contract with the Department of Work and Pensions to run work capability assessments of the sick and disabled, and a £400m deal to assess mobility benefits.
Critics say the tests are flawed, degrading and inefficient, with one in six passed as fit to work winning an appeal against the decision.
The Atos sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics led to protests, and similar actions are now planned in Glasgow. The 2014 HQ was occupied last month, and protesters have threatened to disrupt the Scottish equivalent of the Olympic torch relay if Atos is still a sponsor.
The SNP Government is funding about 80% of the £550m price tag for the Games.
However, (the video above) shows Sturgeon denying any say over the sponsorship: “Obviously the benefits side of this is not a matter for the Scottish Government, it’s a UK Government issue … I will take on board what you said to the Commonwealth Games. Obviously, it’s not my decision in terms of sponsors.”
Protester David Churchley, co-founder of the Black Triangle disability rights group, said Atos sponsorship was “absolutely scandalous and beyond belief” and that Sturgeon had tried to give protesters the brush off.
He said: “They have learned nothing from the Olympics. They’re just riding roughshod over disabled people and those who support us. But Friday will be just one of many stunts we will be mounting up to the Games.”
Sean Clerkin of Citizens United said: “The SNP Government is being hypocritical. They criticise the Tory-led Coalition for what they’re doing to welfare, while welcoming Atos as sponsors of the Commonwealth Games.
“Nicola Sturgeon is the person talking about a welfare system with Scottish values. If she’s going to live up to those values, she should ensure Atos is dropped as a sponsor.”
Here’s a run down of some of the actions against ATOS from 2012:
Monday 3rd December 2012.
Campaigners laid a wreath to mourn the 73 sick and disabled Britons – from the terminally ill to those with industrial injuries – who die every week while trying to scrape by on breadline payments. The demonstration at the cenotaph in George Square, Glasgow, was followed by a protest outside Atos’s office in the city’s Cadogan Street. Full story here.
Tuesday 27 November 2012.
Around 20 members of the Citizens United group of campaigners, occupied the 2014 Games offices in Albion Street, Glasgow. They called for Atos to be removed as a sponsor of the Commonwealth Games 2014. Full story here.
Saturday 24th November 2012.
A dozen people, including members of benefit claimants’ groups Black Triangle and the Crutch Collective, Clydeside Industrial Workers Of The World, Glasgow Anarchist Federation, Glasgow Solidarity Federation as well as other individuals took part in an hour long picket of the Co-Op Bank and supermarket on the same street in central Glasgow.
They gave out leaflets to Co-Op customers and the hundreds of people passing by on their way home from work. The leaflet highlighted the Co-Op’s four year occupational health contract with Atos. Full story here.
The Golden Tenement Talk
17 November 2012, 2 – 4pm, FREE
Education Room, The People’s Palace
This talk will explore the material and social legacy of mega-events such as the Olympic and Commonwealth Games with a focus on our buildings and our cities and will bring together planners, commentators, academics and community members to discuss specific themes around these subjects.
Chaired by Owen Hatherley, the event will focus on Glasgow, Manchester and London and use three cities at various points on the journey up to and beyond a major sporting events, to explore some of the broader issues around ‘regeneration’, architecture and urbanism.
Neil Mcguire, Designer, After the News
Neil Gray, Glasgow Games Monitor 2014, The Strickland Distribution
Ben Spencer, Producer, Velocity
Ewan Imrie, Architect, Collective Architecture
To book your place please contact Panel on 0141 559 4980 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more about ‘The Golden Tenement’ see:
John Swinney, the SNP Cabinet secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, had a bit of a surprise when he went to visit the flats for the new Athletes Village at the site where the Jaconelli family were evicted by Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO), and where the Accord centre is being flattened for a bus park before the Commonwealth Games, 2014.
With copies of the Games Monitor’s East End Eye Dalmarnock special – which documented local evictions and dodgy land deals in the run up to the Games – Margaret Jaconelli and Tommy Short from the ‘Anti-Eviction Alliance’, and Grace Harrigan, Helen McCourt and Mary McArthur from the Save the Accord campaign, grilled Swinney on their cases.
Said Mrs. Jaconelli: “I just told him that i still haven’t recieved any compensation money after the eviction, and I’m still homeless. I also told him that this isn’t just about me. CPO’s are being used as a development tool, and when wee people like me get in the way, they are used to clear the way for big developers. That’s why we’ve set up the Anti-Eviction Alliance, to fight for what is right for people who don’t have access to expensive lawyers and don’t have friends in the Council”.
Save the Accord campaigners, there is solidarity with the Anti-Eviction Alliance, also demanded that the SNP and Glasgow City Council follow through on promises to create new ‘like-for-like’ facilities for people with disabilities in the East End. Helen McCourt said: “We’ve been promised new facilities at the Tollcross Leisure Centre – we want to make sure those promises are held to, and we want to show that we won’t just disappear, we’ll keep fighting for disability facilities in this area to the end”.
Labour Party City Leader, Gordom Matheson, was also on site with John Swinney. Margaret Jaconelli, said he “scarpered away” from the Save the Accord people and Margaret and Tommy, but Tommy chased them into the new flats at the Athletes Village.
“They tried to escort me out”, said Tommy, “but i was determined to draw attention to the brutal eviction of the Jaconelli’s that paved the way for the ‘friendly games'”.
“There were 100 police officers here to evict the Jaconelli family”, he said, holding aloft a large photograph of a man with a sledgehammer breaking into the Jaconelli’s home at 4am, March 2011. “While developers have been compensated with millions, without having to go through Compulsory Purchase Orders [CPO's], the Jaconelli family were dealt with severely, are still homeless, and haven’t had any compensation whatsoever”.
As Tommy and Margaret Jaconelli argue, CPO’s and evictions are increasingly targeting the less well of and the less connected. The Anti-Eviction Alliance has been set up to defend those people, turning the campaign of one family, unfairly treated, into a deeper issue that is linked to the overall question of development and speculation on land.
The Games Monitor has reported before on the carve up of the Athletes Village flats for private sale and ownership, with the City Council retreating on promises to pass the flats on as social housing for local people, with the small amount of ‘social housing’ promised (300 of 1,500) being replaced by so-called ‘affordable’ housing – which is no such thing. On top if this, Tommy Short also informed us that news has allegedly come to light that 2 local elected representatives are forming a consortium to benefit from the Athletes Village. He said:
“Another purpose of the demo was to highlight the fact that speculators and developers have been picking at the meat on the bones of the Athletes Village development, and now local elected representatives are licking the bones. The question we’re asking is, who are the people who are benefiting form these Games? it certainly isn’t the people of Dalmarnock”.
The Anti-Eviction Alliance and the Games Monitor will continue to investigate this story. Stay informed!
Art chiefs hope the keyring-sized replica’s of Margaret Jaconelli’s tenement in Glasgow’s east end will become “icons” of the city.
They plan to make a solid gold model of the building in Dalmarnock with the cash they rake in from the 2014 mementoes, which will then be donated to a homeless charity.
But last night shocked Margaret — who was offered just £30,000 compensation over the demolition of her flat — told of her horror at the plan.
Margaret, 54, said: “In all the time I was in the house, I never thought of it as a work of art. Maybe they should give me the gold tenement because I’m still homeless and still haven’t received a penny for my home.”
We told how the gran was dramatically evicted from her home following a bitter row with the council in March last year. But she said she hoped the models of her flat would raise awareness of the laws that led to her being forced out.
She said: “This way, the issue of compulsory purchase can be highlighted.
“Many of the shopkeepers in Dalmarnock have not received a penny in compensation.
“If they are going to make a souvenir of the Commonwealth Games, then at least this way visitors will know the price that people had to pay.”
Artists Neil McGuire and Marianne Anderson came up with the idea of creating the trinkets.
The said: “We’re exploring the way architectural landmark souvenirs like the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty can carry a narrative about mega-events such as the Commonwealth Games and Olympics.
“It uses one instance of the eviction of a homeowner and the demolition of a property to ask questions about ownership, regeneration, community, value and capital.”
The tenement model is one of six designs which have been chosen, including medals made of Tunnock’s Teacakes, scarves reflecting Glasgow’s landscape, travel rugs, a musical phone app and a china jelly mould based on the interior of the city’s famous Rogano restaurant.
The scheme is being supported by the government-backed arts body Creative Scotland.
And the souvenirs will be displayed at the People’s Palace in September before going into mass production.
Creative Scotland’s Iain Munro said: “This will be a chance for us to support, showcase and celebrate Scotland’s creativity.
“It offers a great platform to showcase our creative and manufacturing talent to national and international audiences.”