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Matheson accused of scuppering George Square comp in ‘fit of pique’

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January 27 2013

Matheson accused of scuppering George Square comp in ‘fit of pique’
Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson has been accused of tearing up plans to redevelop George Square ‘in a fit of pique’ after his favoured option was passed over by the judging panel, according to reports in the Sunday Herald.

Citing ‘two independent council sources’ the paper claims Matheson had thrown his weight firmly behind option 6 by Burns & Nice - and was left with his ‘head in his hands’ when judges opted to plump for John McAslan’s option 2 instead.

Rather than concede however Matheson opted to pull the rug out from under everyone by scrapping the competition entirely. favouring a ‘facelift’ instead.

Costs for the abortive contest have been estimated at close to £100k with a further £250k in costs having been racked up by the six shortlisted design teams – prompting opposition councilors to call for Audit Scotland to investigate.

Speaking to the BBC's Good Morning Scotland (1:53) on Saturday former Prospect editor Penny Lewis said: “The main thing is that council’s are becoming risk averse, procurement departments have a crisis of confidence and the political leadership are not acting like good clients.

“Historically within local authorities you’d have had very experienced planners and architects who had experience of commissioning buildings over a period of years and who would advise politicians. We had some quite brash, gallus, politicians in Glasgow that were into promoting themselves so you had a degree of ambition that produced some good buildings.

“Now I think we’ve got exactly the opposite and a certain amount of philistinism operating within the procurement department but also amongst the politicians.

“Glasgow’s reputation is tarnished and some people will think twice about bothering with Glasgow competitions in the future because there has been a number of problems.  As a profession I think it’s demoralising to be in cities where your role and the contribution you make isn’t taken seriously.”

McAslan, who ostensibly won the contest, will be staging a public meeting at the Scott Monument from 2pm on Monday as part of a drive to force Matheson to reconsider.


#1 Posted by Robert on 27 Jan 2013 at 22:25 PM
Once again I despair at GCC, and then despair at the abominable proof-reading (or lack of) at UR.
Mac Mac
#2 Posted by Mac Mac on 28 Jan 2013 at 09:24 AM
It is a shame that they do not film the judges deliberation's, it would help the public to understand the judging process and also the reasons for their choice. It is also a shame that we as Architects could not take out a civil suit against Matheson for not abiding by the majority decision of the judging panel, why bother having a panel if he wanted to have the executive decision. Is this the time to have an elected Mayor for Glasgow??
Good luck to McAslan with his public consultation.
#3 Posted by Stephen on 30 Jan 2013 at 13:56 PM
If this is true then Matheson should be sacked and if possible sued. It is completely outrageous that he could pull the plug on this, wasting tens of thousands of pounds for the architects who've spent time attempting to win this work. It also wouldn't be the first time the council had pulled a perfectly good competition for George Square and to do it in this economic climate is even more unforgivable. Absolutely, unfathomably, unacceptably, disgraceful.
#4 Posted by Wilson on 1 Feb 2013 at 10:51 AM
As the dust begins to settle on this farcical situation, I am left asking why anyone is really surprised that the George Square competition was a shambles. The loss of experienced and senior officers in Glasgow City Council, combined with the revulsion at using outside advisors means that decision making is very very poor. Donkeys led by Donkeys!

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