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November 6, 2013

Looking beyond the Games

Glasgow’s East End has seen millions poured into the construction of sports facilities and the accompanying infrastructure – all in readiness for next summer’s Commonwealth Games. But since 2007, when the decision to award the games to Glasgow was taken, a small group of far sighted locals have had their eyes on a much bigger prize. Last week a major piece of their plan fell into place – and all for the princely sum of £1.


Evening Times ,Gordon Thomson, 25th October 2013

A £1 coin could start a social revolution in Glasgow’s East End. That is all it cost a community to begin sowing the seed of change that could help free families from the poverty trap and create a lasting legacy long after the curtain falls on next summer’s Commonwealth Games.

The residents of Dalmarnock are getting a purpose-built community hub – something that has been talked about for months but now confirmation comes shortly before bulldozers are sent in to flatten the old Dalmarnock Centre.

Built in the 80s, it was badly in need of repair but for locals it was their only community hub. It was where a bank was set up and a shop when neighbouring commercial businesses in Springfield Road were demolished as part of multi-million pound preparations for next -summer’s sports extravaganza.

The centre too will eventually be demolished and the site cleared to create a coach park for the thousands of competitors and officials who will be housed across the road at the Athletes Village.

Part of the site will also be used for an international zone where athletes, friends and family can meet informally.

But for many locals, the centre was a second home.

It was where a pensioners party was held on Friday, November 9, 2007 – the night it was announced that Glasgow had beaten its rivals for the right to host the 2014 Games.

That decision triggered a chain of events, which have transformed the area.

Millions upon millions of pounds have been spent on the construction of a hi tech sports arena and indoor cycling track just a stone’s throw from the centre as well as a new roads system.

Millions more are being spent on a village which will eventually ¬become a new home to hundreds of families, including locals and others who want to move back to an area where they were born and bred.

The Dalmarnock Community Hub will be part of a rich legacy created by the Games.

Fittingly, it will be built next to the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Springfield Road, near its junction with Dalmarnock Road.

The bill of £3.7million is being picked up by lottery chiefs, Glasgow City Council and the Scottish ¬Government. Detailed plans have been drawn up and now senior councillors have given the community ¬project the green light.

They have decided to sell just over an acre of land – worth almost £200,000 – to the community for just £1. Local activist and Labour councillor Yvonne Kucuk has been burning the midnight oil to get the hub off the ground.

She’s also the regeneration manager of the local People’s Development Trust and says the hub will be the catalyst for a better future for the community.

There’ll be a community hall, a cafe, GP surgery, chemist, a shop and a children’s nursery. Yvonne said: “Everything we lost we are bringing back into the community.

“But we’ve never had a nursery so that will generate income for us. We estimate that the hub will also ¬create 60 new jobs.”

There are already locals on ¬college childcare courses who are likely to be recruited and Yvonne and fellow Trust officials aim to improve their basic skills by encouraging them to take on further studies with the aim of becoming “master” nursery nurses.

They are determined to encourage youngsters to achieve their full potential and training providers and other agencies will be encouraged to set up classes and projects in the community hall.

The building contractor is ¬expected to be named in the coming days amid hopes that construction work could get under way before the end of next month.

Work will be mothballed in the summer, while a worldwide television audience of more than a billion focus on Glasgow and the Games.

Dalmarnock Community Hub is expected to open its doors in January, 2015, and Yvonne predicts it will be the catalyst which helps free locals from the poverty trap with services put in place to encourage them to go to university, train for work and live a productive life.”

The project is being backed by Councillor Archie Graham, executive member for the Commonwealth Games on Glasgow City Council.

He said: “We are pleased to help the Trust in their work to build the Dalmarnock Community Hub.

“The council has delivered projects such as the Emirates Arena and Clyde Gateway that have transformed Dalmarnock over the past few years and our partnership on the Athletes’ Village with City Legacy will bring a new neighbourhood to the area and city next year.

“The Dalmarnock Community Hub would provide a focal point for the area.

“The building would be a real ¬asset for the community as Dalmarnock enters a new era.”