A COMMUNITY group determined to bring new life to a former city car park by turning it into a green space is calling for an eleventh hour pause in plans to sell the site

Merchant City Park - a group formed by residents and Merchant City & Trongate Community Council (MCTCC) - hopes to turn the site on Ingram Street into a city park.

Members have been campaigning since 2018 to be allowed to take over the space and have gone as far as to report Glasgow City Council to watchdogs over its handling of the situation.

The council, however, is clear it has been scrupulously fair with Merchant City Park.

It sold the space to it's arm's-length body City Property LLP and says this was the right thing to do to free up cash for Glasgow.

Its members have now set up an online petition and are calling for an extension to an August 28 closing date that will see the car park sold.

They say having a city park in the space will bring health benefits to local people and be an "invaluable boost" to the centre of the city.

Eileen Mills, a member of the group, said: "We asked the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman to delay the closing date on the site while we provide evidence of a lack of engagement with us by Glasgow City Council collusion between it and City Property.

"It has been difficult for us to fund raise when we don't own the site and when we are tangling with two such big organisations but we are determined to keep going with the campaign to see this site turned into a park that will improve the health and wellbeing of the area."

The Ingram Street site is overlooked by the famous Fruitmarket Mural by Smug and is home to 20 mature cherry and chestnut trees.

A hotel chain had put an offer in to buy the former NCP car park for £6.75 million but this sale fell through in 2018.

Merchant City Park then hoped to the use the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 to take over the site on Ingram Street.

Glasgow City Council then sold the ground on to City Property LLP, it's arm's-length property company, which is not subject to the legislation.

A closing date of August 28 has been placed on the site, meaning Merchant City Park urgently needs support before a sale is agreed.

A spokeswoman for the group said: "It would be a disaster if the possibility were missed, for our local community and for Glasgow city as a whole, to have a natural breathing space in the heart of the Merchant City for recovery and social reconnection.

"Coronavirus has shown the importance of inclusive green space, and the lack of it within the city.

"There are now just 21 days left before the closing date. We have launched on online petition and hope to gain widespread support for the public park."

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “This is a development site that the council had been looking to sell for some time – and it accepted a bid of £6.75m in 2016, with plans submitted to build a hotel.

“That plan was subsequently withdrawn and the council agreed to sell the site to City Property; securing a significant receipt for the city while allowing CP to continue to market the property for development.

”There is nothing unusual about setting a closing date on that process at this stage.”

For more information see www.merchantcitypark.org and to sign the petition see you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/merhcant-city-park