- Created: Monday, 09 May 2011 17:29
- Written by Dominic O’Hara and Joseph Eskovitchl
Photo: Campaigners from the Save the Accord centre campaign and Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! march together on May Day in Glasgow.
In Dalmarnock, a working class community in the East End of Glasgow, opposition to vicious Labour council cuts is being led by the campaign to 'Save the Accord Centre'. The Accord centre, which provides specialist support and care for more than 120 adults with severe learning difficulties, is to be demolished in order to build a car park for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Three years ago carers and service users received promises from the Labour council that a new centre would be found or built, as part of the legacy of the Commonwealth games, to replace the Accord centre once its closure was due. These promises were empty and three years on, with tens of millions of pounds being spent on projects like the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, the council and social care services are offering up little more than ‘an hour or two a day in a couple of rooms in a community centre’. This does not come close to a replacement centre and is a mere insult to the people of the East End of Glasgow.
To add insult to injury, three years ago £250,000 was put aside by the council for a replacement centre; this money has since disappeared and despite endless meetings with councillors and politicians the campaign has been unable to trace it. With goons like disgraced former leader of the Labour party’s council group Stephen Purcell in their midst, it does not take a genius to guess where the council ‘lost’ it. In July 2010, it was exposed that Purcell helped arrange access to a top official for two Labour-supporting developers – Allan Stewart and Stephen McKenna – who later gave him a job. In 2007, shortly after the council agreed to pay the ‘businessmen’ £1.7 million for a plot of land in Dalmarnock, site of the Commonwealth games, one of their firms gave £5000 to Scottish Labour.
Other speculators have been the beneficiaries of grubby land deals, with Glasgow City Council paying London property tycoon Charles Price an incredible £20 million for land in the East End which cost him only £8 million to purchase a few years earlier. Meanwhile, the carers and service users of the Accord centre are being left with nothing. On 24 March, around 100 Strathclyde police officers were deployed to forcefully evict Margaret Jaconelli from her flat in Dalmarnock where she had lived for 34 years after she lost her legal fight against eviction. The block of flats is to be demolished by the city council, also to make way for the Commonwealth games.
Glasgow City Council have attempted to cover up the crime of depriving people access to vital services and embezzling public funds by blaming the ‘economic climate’. For current city council leader and Labour party member Gordon Matheson – who receives a basic salary in the region of £48,000 with further allowances and remuneration for sitting on council set up company boards – no such climate exists. Austerity is reserved for the working class of the East End while wealth and abundance is for the ruling classes and their political puppets in the city chambers.
One wonders how many replacement Accord Centres could be built with the £7.7m pay award recently dished out to Stephen Hester, Chief Executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 83% ‘owned’ by the public.
For now the pressure of the Save the Accord campaign, including an inspiring confrontation with the Scottish Labour Party’s leader Iain Gray, and apparent ‘financial difficulties’ at the Bambury Centre, an inadequate replacement, have held up the council’s closure plans. Until a solution is found the closure is postponed. The solution for the campaign is clear as day: give the people of the East End a centre they can be proud of and where the needs of their loved ones can be met!
As the clock comes round to the 2014 Commonwealth Games sham in Glasgow, the movement against the cross-party supported cuts and ruling class austerity is building. In the elections to the Scottish Parliament on 5 May, Labour was humiliated by the voters. The Scottish National Party triumphed in many of Labour’s Glasgow heartlands. In the East End’s Shettleston constituency, which includes Dalmarnock, Labour’s notorious Frank McAveety lost to the SNP’s John Mason. During the election campaign, Mason and SNP leader Alex Salmond made personal promises regarding the Accord centre; we have no doubt that the campaigners will do everything in their power to hold them to their word.
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! in Glasgow has been supporting the carers and service users of the Accord in their ongoing fight and will do whatever it can to help the Save the Accord centre campaign achieve its aims.
A fuller article, including an interview with campaigners from the Accord centre, will appear in a future edition of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!. See the Save the Accord Facebook here.
A victory for one is a victory for all!
Save the Accord!
Fight The Cuts!
Dominic O’Hara and Joseph Eskovitchl