FURIOUS campaigners have slammed bosses at Glasgow Life after an asbestos discovery saw them fail on a promise to reopen a lifeline hub.

Ruchill Community Centre - described by locals as the heartbeat of the area - was set to reopen later this month after £262,000 was secured to refurbish the fabric of the building.

However, the Glasgow Times can exclusively reveal that contractors have discovered the entire roof needs to be replaced after it was found to contain potentially deadly asbestos.

Total repairs will now cost £650,000, meaning an extra £400,000 needs to be found - with Glasgow Life confirming today that it doesn't have the cash.

Outraged locals are demanding to know why the issue has only come to light, despite extensive surveys of the building previously.

Brian Land has been at the centre of the campaign to reopen the hub and says the latest news has "blindsided" people.

Glasgow Times: Campaigners at Ruchill Community Centre

The 46-year-old said: “Scaffolding has been in place at the centre since February and I want to know why we are only finding out about this now – just a matter of weeks before we were told it would reopen.

“This is a much-needed facility in an area where people desperately need the services it provides, such as the food and heat bank. For over three years we have been fighting for it to be brought back into use to give adults and kids a safe place to go and mix as a community.

“People feel totally blindsided by this and angry that the asbestos wasn’t discovered sooner. It’s a massive blow and people here feel completely let down, we now have no idea if the doors will ever open.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that we fought so hard to secure the centre’s future and thought we had achieved our goal. Now that looks like that has all been in vain.”

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The centre on Bilsland Drive has been shut since March 2020, when the plug was pulled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For the past three years, campaigners have held weekly protests in a bid to pressure Glasgow Life into reopening it, supported by Labour councillors Robert Mooney and Fiona Higgins.

Glasgow Times:

Councillor Mooney said: “The centre is a lifeline and the news it won’t reopen as planned is a huge blow to everyone. We will be doing everything in our power to ensure a way is found to secure the money to repair the roof.

“This is a much-loved centre that held a full timetable of events and programmes before its closure. It’s a hugely important part of this community.”

Councillor Higgins told the Glasgow Times that she will be looking closely at the breakdown of costs outlined to replace the roof.

She said: “We are absolutely determined to overcome this hurdle, but it is extremely disappointing.

“I will be examining the costing to establish why the projected bill is so high. I’ll also be meeting with the finance director for the local authority to find out if there’s another way to secure the money.

“We were told before that the chances of reopening were slim but we got this far. We all want to see Ruchill Community Centre open and thriving once again.”

Glasgow Times:

Activist Dave Anderson, 77, fears those struggling with the cost of living and fuel bills will have nowhere to turn for vital support if the centre's doors remain shut. He is calling for repairs to be made a priority – and accused Glasgow Life of failing on a promise to the people of Ruchill.

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He added: “Glasgow Life has broken its promise to have the centre up and running by this month. It’s just not good enough and they need to take responsibility for the state of their buildings and support the people who rely on them.

“To just pass this off as ‘we don’t have the cash to cover a new roof’ isn’t good enough – and people won’t accept it. We’ve been told the centre will reopen and that’s a commitment they need to now stick to.”

Glasgow Times:

A spokesperson for Glasgow Life admitted that the budget for the project now faces a gaping black hole.

They said: “In September 2022, Glasgow City Council’s City Administration Committee approved options presented by Glasgow Life to reopen more community facilities that remained closed as a result of the pandemic. The council allocated £1.1m for this process as part of its 2022/23 budget, which included £262,000 of investment in the fabric of Ruchill Community Centre to enable the venue to reopen in the 2023/24 financial year.

“Between September 2022 and February 2023, we worked with our contractor City Building to identify the full programme of repairs required to refurbish Ruchill, as well as to establish the costs of this work and an indicative timescale for reopening the venue. During this period, the local campaign group was taken into the building to show them the extent of the repairs to be undertaken.

“Initial exterior repairs began in late February, with a plan to overlay a new roof on top of the existing one. However, our contractor discovered that structurally the building could not support this additional weight and the roof would need to be replaced. At the same time, necessary testing identified a considerable spread of asbestos throughout the roof.

“Further on-site investigations have revealed additional challenges in recent weeks. Together with rising inflation in the construction sector, this means our projected project costs are estimated to increase from £262,000 to more than £650,000; meaning we require at least an additional £400,000. We will know the final sum when we receive revised full costs from our contractor.

“Glasgow Life does not have the additional funding required to progress the modified repair programme at Ruchill Community Centre. Discussions are now underway with Glasgow City Council to address this funding gap and an expected significant extension to the timescale.”