After a number of women were forced to walk home in the dark following COP26 related restrictions in Finnieston, a spokesperson for Glasgow City Council has stated that parks are only for “daytime use”.
A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council has suggested that lighting issues in Kelvingrove Park are unlikely to improve anytime soon. Safety provisions for COP26 have allowed for the temporary installation of generator lights around the city’s hotspots, encouraging locals to reignite campaigns for a more permanent solution to lighting issues in Glasgow’s parks. However, comments from the PR boss for Glasgow City Council, Colin Edgar, make this outcome appear unlikely.
Justifying the lack of lighting in Kelvingrove Park, one of the city’s most popular green spaces, and a vital route home for students, Edgar stated: “In general, we don’t light our parks at night and we don’t encourage people to use our parks at night except for temporary lighting for events. This is because our parks operate differently at night time than they do during the day.
“We’re working to minimise energy use across our estate, but we’re also working to minimise the disruption to nocturnal birds, bats, and pollinators, which are present within our park land.”
The debate around lighting in Kelvingrove Park sparked back up again after an unexpected police diversion around Argyle Street in Finnieston forced locals to walk through a “pitch-black” park without protection. Ahead of the world leaders’ dinner reception being held in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum on Monday, Police Scotland cordoned off main roads to protect high profile attendees such as Prince Charles and Boris Johnson from potential harm. These diversions saw a number of women with no choice but to take alternative routes, many of which were dimly lit and far from busier and safer streets.
After asking a police officer for guidance, one student who had been affected by the diversions told The Glasgow Guardian that she had been assured that police were stationed around the park for protection: “there weren’t any, and it was pitch black.”
Another student affected by the diversions told The Glasgow Guardian that the diversions made it very difficult to get into the Park in the first instance, “It took me 45 minutes to get there when it would normally only take me two. I was advised to walk around the back of Kelvinhall, through side streets, which were quiet as it was nighttime.”
Commenting on lighting in Kelvingrove Park, former University of Glasgow Rector Aamer Anwar took to Twitter to express his frustration at having “raised the issue of lighting along Kelvinway and in the park following a spate of sexual attacks” two years ago: “I was told it was for Glasgow City Council [to deal with] – so what’s happening?”
Police Scotland have since issued an apology for the inconvenience caused to local residents on Monday night. Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said: “Residents were diverted on their way home, including on foot through Kelvingrove Park, following real-time changes to operational plans on Monday night.
“While late changes and some level of disruption is inevitable when policing an event the size and scale of COP26, we understand and apologise for the concern these changes caused and for the inconvenience to those diverted.
“We do, in particular, recognise and acknowledge the commentary from some women who had to walk through the park on their own last night. We want to keep everyone safe and we know that the onus is on us to recognise when we could provide some more support and visibility to reassure people in our communities.
“We will work with Glasgow City Council to consider whether lighting in Kelvingrove Park can be improved.”