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Cop26: Police Scotland apologise for safety concerns over pedestrian diversions around world leaders’ route to Kelvingrove

Police Scotland have apologised after concerns were raised over the safety of diversions in place around the Cop26 summit on Monday night.

A large stretch of road from the SEC to Kelvingrove museum, where an evening reception for world leaders was being held, was lined by barriers and officers until late in the evening.

The cordon, in place to allow convoys to ferry delegates and leaders from the summit site to the event, meant Finnieston Street and Argyle Street were uncrossable for hours.

Pedestrians were instructed by officers to take a long diversion through Kelvingrove Park and down Byres Road, even if they simply needed to get from one side of the street to the other.

As night fell, safety concerns were raised, particularly for lone women having to walk through the unlit area.

Police lined Argyle Street throughout the afternoon and into the night (Pics: Ross Crae)

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.

“The diversion is no longer in place and there are no plans to reintroduce it. Should further diversions be required at short notice for operational purposes, we will look to establish additional patrols in the area to provide reassurance.

“We will work with Glasgow City Council to consider whether lighting in Kelvingrove Park can be improved.”

World leaders and royals were on the guest list for the exclusive dinner at Kelvingrove.

A huge security presence surrounded the venue, with climate activists gathering in the nearby park to make their voices heard.

Cat Scothorne from Glasgow Calls Out Polluters told STV: “How dare these world leaders have a fancy dinner on the first night of COP26, as if they have something to be proud of.

“The continued support of the fossil fuel industry by the heads of state, particularly in the global North, is killing millions of people.

“The consequences of climate change are faced by people not in power, but those mainly in the global South and people on sites where extraction occurs, yet the perpetrators sit in luxury, insulated from it all.”

Further accessibility issues

One Israeli minister was unable to attend the opening day of the conference because the summit was not wheelchair accessible.

Karine Elharrar wrote on Twitter: “To COP26 I came to meet with my counterparts around the world and promote a joint fight against the climate crisis. It is sad that the UN, which promotes accessibility for people with disabilities, in 2021, does not take care of accessibility at its events.

“I hope that the lessons required to be learned tomorrow to promote green energies, remove barriers and energy efficiency will be the things I deal with.”

Her plight attracted a quick response from senior UK officials, with Foreign Office minister James Cleverly responding in a tweet: “I am deeply disappointed and frustrated that Minister @KElharrar could not access COP today.

“The COP venue is designed to be accessible for all. I have spoken to the Minister about this and I look forward to meeting her tomorrow.”