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!