CITY councillors have teamed up with local community groups to support the Save our Venues campaign and reverse Glasgow Life’s decision to shut some facilities permanently.

Conservatives, Labour and Green councillors have criticised the move to only re-open 90 venues across the city while facilities including Whiteinch Library and Victoria Park Tennis and Basketball Court remain closed.

The tennis and basketball courts are one of several facilities where there is interest in it being taken over under an asset management transfer.

Whiteinch Community Council met on Monday night to review their campaign to prevent the library from closing.

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They are demanding that a full service, comparable to other city libraries is provided from the same B-listed building near Victoria Park.

Elizabeth Brown, spokesperson for Whiteinch Community Council, said: “Whiteinch Community Council’s demand to re-open the library is supported by our MP, all our list candidates for the Glasgow Anniesland seat, its councillors and all the community councils. You would be hard put to find many people from the area who would not want the library retained.”

During the budget meeting earlier this year the SNP, Labour and Conservative parties in the council proposed £4.7 million in savings for Glasgow Life.
Conservative councillor Ade Aibinu has now claimed that the council’s SNP administration had misled his constituents.

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Aibinu said: “The news ... is a hammer blow to the local community and residents who cherish these facilities. Local people feel completely betrayed by the council’s SNP administration.

“Only a few months ago the leader of the council promised that no Glasgow Life library would close.

“Well, it turns out my constituents were right to be fearful. They have been completely misled by SNP councillors who seem to be content to allow vital community facilities to close rather than speak out and demand a fair funding settlement from their party colleagues in Edinburgh.

“The decision ... was made with absolutely zero consultation with the local community or elected representatives.”

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However, the SNP say that removing library services is not in their agenda and that just last month they provided £100m in financial support to Glasgow Life to see them through the pandemic.

Labour councillor Maggie McTernan agreed these sites are important to everyone and the support for them demonstrates that.

She said: “Whiteinch Library is a valued local resource, as evidenced by the fantastic community campaign that has arisen to protect it – you just need to go and see the messages that have been put up on the railings outside the library to know how important it is to the local people.

“This decision has been taken with no genuine engagement with the community and would remove the only Glasgow Life facility from this ward, and from one of the most deprived communities in the city. It is a cut to this community and must be stopped immediately.”

The SNP have said the Labour and Conservative councillors should have come up with an action plan for Glasgow Life as it won’t be able to return to its normal services overnight.

Also supporting the Save our Venues campaign are the Scottish Greens. They believe some of these facilities are a lifeline for their constituents.

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Greens councillor Jon Molyneux said: “We’ve been calling for urgent action on this issue since the end of the first lockdown, when it became clear that dozens of venues faced an uncertain future.

“Greens campaigned then for a Scottish Government bailout, which helped to secure the cash that has now allowed almost 100 venues to re-open – but that’s still not enough.

“These venues, and the services delivered from them, are lifelines. 

“We need them open without further delay to support recovery in our local communities.”
In her Glasgow Times column, council leader Susan Aitken promised that libraries were safe from closure.

In August she said there were no plans to shut any of Glasgow’s libraries and that eight months on that hasn’t changed.

An SNP spokesperson added: “Despite Labour’s disinformation campaign and the rank hypocrisy of Tories committed to shredding community facilities, we are not in the business of removing library services. 

“Last month we provided a £100m financial guarantee to Glasgow Life.

“Despite being fully aware of the pressures Glasgow Life faced due to Covid, Labour and the Tories sat on their hands with not so much as
a suggestion between them.

“And far from the Victoria Park sports facilities closing, discussions are already under way to make them part of the huge shift towards community control and stewardship of local amenities that is taking place across the city.

“We cannot return to normal overnight and fully understand the concern and uncertainty within communities this has caused and will ensure they are kept fully informed of plans for local facilities.”

Councillor David McDonald added: “It’s frustrating and disappointing that with the impending election, Tory councillors, who know very well that there is no plan to close services, can’t resist the temptation to needlessly alarm the communities they are supposed to support. 

“All councillors have been kept fully briefed on Glasgow Life’s financial position and its plans for the initial reopening of 90 venues. 

“They know of and have supported Glasgow Life’s plans for new models of operating and delivering services across the city, to falsely claim otherwise now that there is an election on is the type of hollow politics we’ve come to expect from Glasgow’s Tory councillors. 

“The truth is that there has only been one plan to close community venues in Glasgow recently and it was put forward by the Tories in their city budget in March but blocked by the SNP city government with the support of the Greens.”