Glasgow is a haven of small lanes and streets, away from the main thorough fares of the city centre. On Woodlands Road, the start of the West End you can often hear people saying “You’d never think we’re only two minutes away from the city centre".
Today is all about saving one of those little piece of paradise, that is, Otago Lane which runs parallel to Gibson Street in Hillhead. The reason it is under threat from a planned development which will take away the character of the area for the sake of material profit. Martin Fell, the owner of the Tchi-Ovna tea shop and part time jazz musician said “It all seems very medieval, bringing back the people behind a fortress wall”.
The plan as has been written about before, is about knocking down the part-time gig venue Tchiovna, Mixed Up Records a nationally renowned second hand record store, clock shop and book store Voltaire and Rousseau. The plan is to then build a car park and modern, furnished apartments. There is not the room to build these flats and keep these thriving businesses going. Otago Lane is a cramped area hemmed in by the River Kelvin, Gibson Street and Otago Street in the suburb, Hillhead just a couple of hundered yards from the University of Glasgow buildings.
Mr Fell, is not the only person worried about the closure. Labour and Glasgow North MP, Anne McKechin as well as Katy Gordon the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Glasgow area (Scottish Parliament) both spoke against the plans to dismantle the treasured area. With Ms. Gordon saying "Its a little like the argument about the holocaust. They came for the jews and nobody spoke up. They came for the protestants and nobody spoke up. They came for me and nobody was left to speak up for me". Other local dignitaries all were happy to speak up against the planned closure.
The march went from Otago Lane, to Ruthven Lane a place which has already seen the fall of an axe for a development on similar lines. Also, there was a stop on Ashton and Cresswell Lanes, again, locations much appreciated by the public, but similarly under threat of development from their use as recreational, business and residential areas to purely residential taking the character and connections people have with places. “One thing the council has forgotten is that there is more to human life than just housing, there is the need for the culture of a place to come out too”.
Banners and placards snake through the streets of surrounding areas. There are some minor disturbances to traffic on Byers and Great Western Roads, but nobody cares about this as the demonstrators shout “save our lane”, Scotland the Brave is played on the bagpipes and drivers toot their horns in support.