From the Daily Record 1998’T+WORRY,+I+KNOW+WHAT+I’M+DOING.-a060556413

The man who turned the heart of Glasgow into a huge building site yesterday posed proudly beside diggers ripping it up.

Council leader Frank McAveety dared to enter George Square, even though citizens want his head on a plate.

They are furious at him for ordering workmen to fell 75-year-old trees and rip up flower beds.

Braving the wrath of voters, he beamed widely as he told of his plans for a new, improved city centre.

As Glasgow gears up to become the City of Architecture and Design next year, the George Square development has become the 16th in the city centre.

From the Broomielaw to Sauchiehall Street, clanking machines are tearing it apart.

McAveety insisted that just as we have New Labour, Glasgow would have New George Square.

The council have come under attack for letting work begin without telling the public.

In a bid to save face, he posed smiling beside the eyesore. Yes, McAveety conceded, the pounds 200,000 project had come as a surprise to businesses but insisted it’s for everyone’s good.

But even his high profile appearance can’t hide the fact that councillors – including Tory John Young, Nationalist Kenneth Gibson and Militant Tommy Sheridan – infuriated the public by allowing the work to start without consultation.

People were sickened to see the scenes of devastation.

Yesterday, McAveety said: “We’ll have an upgraded surface and permanent entertainment space. We will replace the trees which have Dutch Elm Disease.

“This is a reasonable upgrading, but any substantial change to the square would involve all the citizens of Glasgow.”

But some are unconvinced. One, Graeme Robertson, said: “This is a disgrace – we’re supposed to be attracting tourists and the politicians have ripped the place apart.”

Sheila McIntyre added: “The square looked fine as it was.”

Environmental groups have also expressed dismay at the devastation.

McAveety said: “I understand the concerns, but would ask people to wait.”

Other projects which have turned the city into a massive building site are causing chaos.

On Buchanan Street, pavements are littered with debris from a huge shopping centre.

Pedestrians have to dodge scaffolding on West George Street outside a new hotel.

Work is under way on a bar, restaurant and flats in Renfield Street and housing in Sauchiehall Street.

Renovation at Central Station, the refurbishment of an office block and another conversion have created “chicanes” on busy Hope Street.

And contractors are working on a restaurant and pub on North Frederick Street, a tax office on Montrose Street and refurbishment in George Street.