This Road is Red

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Alison Irvine

This is a beautifully written tale of life in a high-rise housing scheme. The author spent a year interviewing past and present residents and crafted their real-life stories into a collection that tells how the last five decades have impacted on the community.

The Red Road flats have long been an iconic Clydeside landmark. The scheme was conceived by the council as a solution to Glasgow's overcrowded slums. Red Road seemed to herald a bright future. But like many schemes of the time, poor-planning and cost-cutting meant no community facilities, few amenities and major maintenance problems.

While parts of Glasgow prospered, Red Road was ignored. Today Red Road is notorious for poverty, crime, drug abuse and vandalism.

The most moving stories are about the plight of refugees. A year ago Red Road hit the headlines when a family of Russian asylum seekers facing deportation jumped to their deaths a from the tower block. That evening 400 local people joined a commemoration at the spot where the three died. It wasn't Red Road's first suicide but the tragedy shone a light on the plight of many refugees and the terrible housing conditions in the poorest parts of Glasgow.

Alison Irvine's first book is a fine tribute to the people of the Red Road and a great account of how human solidarity can prevail in even the bleakest circumstances.