The Chair of Glasgow Life has written to Nicola Sturgeon, over the financial crisis facing the organisation.

Around 70 venues, including community centres, libraries, pitches and bowling greens are not being re-opened after the Covid pandemic.

Glasgow Life says it has lost tens of millions of pounds in income due to closures and faces a £17m budget shortfall.

The Glasgow Times launched the Save our Venues campaign after communities are concerned they may lose facilities for good.

The issue is set to dominate a meeting of the full Glasgow City Council today after Labour councillor Archie Graham put forward a motion calling for all venues to re-open as soon as they can and for the Scottish Government to be asked to step in with financial help.

The SNP group at the council have hit back accusing Labour of “hypocrisy” claiming the left a massive repair bill.

David McDonald, chair of Glasgow Life and deputy leader of the council, has asked Nicola Sturgeon for a meeting to discuss the future for Glasgow Life.

Glasgow Times:

To the First Minister, he said: “I am sure that while you were on the campaign trail you will have heard from people across Glasgow worried about the impact the pandemic is having on the ability of Glasgow Life to reopen venues in every part of the city.”

Mr McDonald outlines the dire financial situation facing Glasgow Life.

He said: “We need income from a range of sources in order to top up the budget we get from Glasgow City Council to do this.

“We have received a guarantee of funding from the council of £100 million for this financial year and Glasgow Life is reopening more than 90 venues with it.

“However, despite this significant investment it is still c£17m short of previous Glasgow Life expenditure on services and I know you are aware of the impacts of this in communities across the city.

“Like culture and leisure trusts and charities across the country, earned income contributed significantly to our overall budgets, the majority of which was lost as a result of COVID.”

The role Glasgow can play in recovery from covid and the importance of culture and leisure facilities is put to the First Minister.

Mr McDonald, said: “In the coming weeks, months and years the city is gearing up to host EURO 2020 matches at Hampden Stadium; reopening The Burrell Collection highlighting, just as V&A Dundee did, the exceptional quality of the collections and museums Scotland has, to local, national and international audiences; looking forward to helping deliver and host projects which are part of Festival 2022; hosting the World Cycling Championships in 2023 during Glasgow’s year as the European Capital of Sport.” 

Glasgow Times:

Mr McDonald ends with a request to be invited to discuss the matter with the First Minister.

He said: “I would welcome the opportunity to meet you to discuss the future of Glasgow Life and how we can support you in the delivery of your government programme.”

Heated exchanges are expected when the issue is debated at the council today, with the SNP members prepared to defend their record and attack Labour on theirs.

In his motion Labour councillor, Archie Graham, said "continued uncertainty" around Glasogw Life venues "is contrary to Council policy".

He called for all 171 venues to re-open "as soon as funding and Scottish Government guidance allow" and said "any plans to close buildings and venues should be immediately halted" .

The motion said the council should write to the Scottish Government "demanding further funding" to protect facilities.

The SNP have hit back.

A spokesperson for the SNP Group said: "At the time the public voted them out in 2017 Labour left the new SNP administration with a Glasgow Life repair bill totalling well over £100million.

“Individual libraries were left needing upgrades of around £7m. they knew their time was up and left us to clear up their mess.

Glasgow Times:

“Given that around 70% of the Glasgow Life estate was built before 1980 and around a quarter are category A or B listed this is a serious dereliction of duty stretching well beyond the decade that Labour was in charge of Glasgow Life.

"Since 2017 around £40m has been spent on the upkeep and upgrade of Glasgow Life buildings including investment in Cardonald, Castlemilk, Woodside, Partick, Elder Park and Langside libraries.

“Money has also been spent on our heritage estate  neglected or abandoned by Labour including Scotland Street School and non-council run venues  like the Glasgow Women’s Library in Bridgeton or the community led regeneration of Govanhill Baths.

Glasgow Times:

"Labour fiddled while our heritage burned. They had no plans to address these issues when in power  or indeed in opposition as the budget just a few months ago showed.

“The inroads we have made in addressing Labour’s neglect have been set back by Covid in lost income and running costs.

"But we are committed to solutions in maintaining services not hypocrisy and whitewashing responsibility.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The letter from Glasgow Life has been received and we will respond in due course.

"This is a hugely challenging and concerning time for our world-renowned museums and arts venues, along with leisure facilities across Scotland. We are doing all we can to support them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The value of our overall COVID-19 support package for councils now totals more than £1.5 billion.

“While it remains the responsibility of local authorities to allocate funding based on local need, we are working with all partners to understand the specific circumstances in supporting Culture and Leisure Trusts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.”