West End residents including lone women were forced to walk through Kelvingrove Park in complete darkness as access to their homes was blocked by COP26 security operations. 

World leaders including Joe Biden dined at Kelvingrove Museum last night, following the first day of negotiations at the climate summit. 

A ring of steel was erected around the VIP dinner, with residents unable to return to their own homes. 

Some were forced to take alternative routes and for many this meant walking through the dark park. 

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Partick resident Eilidh Paterson was forced to make the detour: “As women, we are constantly told to avoid the park at night," she said. 

"That it’s dark, unsafe and that we would be partly to blame if something happened to us walking through it. 

“To be told by the police that our only option last night was to walk through the place we’re always told to avoid, I felt extremely unsafe and vulnerable. All because we couldn’t cross the road to go home. All for a fancy dinner. Is my safety less important than someone having a nice dinner?”

Another woman was denied access just meters away from her flat and faced an hour-long journey to return home. 

She said: “I could literally see my flat but I was told I couldn’t get through so I had to walk through the park. It was pitch black, some people were using their phone lights and police forces who did not know the area weren’t able to advise on how to get back safely.”

“After everything in the news over the past few months and warnings to women not to walk alone through unlit parks, we were allowed no choice.” 

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A spokesperson from Glasgow Living Street, which campaigns for safer streets for walking in Glasgow, said: “I walked through the park myself and it wasn't a good walking experience. It was very busy with pedestrians and cyclists.

“On trying to leave the park, there were several exits closed so we ended up wandering around in the dark trying to find our way out. There were several other confused people. All in all, not a suitable or safe walking environment.”

Kelvingrove Park is not normally lit up at night and local campaigners and community groups have been calling for lighting to improve safety after dark.

COP26 organisers say they have put temporary lights in place to make up for the Kelvin Way closure - the only illuminated thoroughfare in the park -, but according to residents these were limited to a small area.

One resident took to Twitter to highlight the issue. 

She wroter: "Hey ⁦@GlasgowCC, we understand shutting down kelvin way for #Cop26 but being made to walk through #kelvingrove park in darkness is not safe. So many generator lights are being used for the police, can you not light the main path for us at least?

"P.s. please don’t make this about political parties, we’ve been petitioning @GlasgowCC for decades to light the park, through different leaderships. Don’t squabble, just use this moment as a reason to light the park."

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Scottish Conservative MSP for Glasgow, Annie Wells MSP, said: “My heart goes out to the women who have voiced their distress at feeling unsafe walking home at night. 

“Women’s safety cannot be compromised under any circumstances. It’s totally unacceptable for people to feel afraid because they’re being forced to walk through potentially dangerous routes in the pitch black.

“I urge Police Scotland and the local council to immediately act so that nobody is forced down badly lit paths where they fear for their safety.”

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."

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A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “We have been working very hard to let people know about the restrictions that are in place for the climate change conference so that they can plan ahead and work around the security measures.

“For on the ground, operational reasons, Police Scotland changed the diversions at short notice last night (Monday 1 November) and diverted members of the public through Kelvingrove Park. Police Scotland has apologised for the concern and inconvenience caused by these last minute changes.

"We'd identified an alternative route on the back of the original restrictions via the park to lessen the impact on the public with four additional lighting rigs installed and we understand that members of the public might have taken other routes that we couldn't have predicted.

“We make every effort to make sure that residents and businesses are told about restrictions well in advance. Whenever we are notified of changes they are posted on social media, as they were last night. The Get Ready Glasgow website is also regularly updated.”