PEOPLE across Glasgow have rightly refused to accept the loss of their local libraries, sports facilities, and community centres.

Last week Glasgow Life published a statement about dozens of “venues not yet scheduled for re-opening”.

If facilities were demolished would they describe them as

“venues not yet scheduled for re-building”?

We need transparency and proper facts not Orwellian doublespeak.

As we all know, if a public facility remains closed long enough it will likely never re-open.

Community services and resources are hard won by local groups and activists often after years of tireless campaigning.

Why should they disappear like tears in the rain?

The first question I want to address is how has this happened?

Who’s responsible and is it really all because of Covid-19, as Glasgow Life claimed last week?

Glasgow Life was launched as an independent charity in 2007 to deliver cultural and leisure services on behalf of Glasgow City Council (GCC).

The sites Glasgow Life manages belong to GCC – and ultimately GCC is but the custodian of public assets on behalf of the people of our city.

Glasgow Life is governed by a board of five city councillors and eight independent non-executive directors and an executive director, Bridget McConnell.

Its published accounts reveal it was running up significant losses well before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Reported losses were: £9.8m in 2018; £14.6m in 2019 and £11m in 2020.

Over this period its income ranged from £121m to £128m per annum – largely funded through a contract with GCC.

Its latest group accounts (Culture and Sport Glasgow) to the year-end March 31, 2020, show an overall balance sheet deficit of -£34.4m.

This is due to a historic pension fund shortfall which stood at -£53.4m in March last year.

It’s important to remember this is a paper deficit because the £53.4m hasn’t crystallised as a debt – it can be reduced over a period of years, or if pension fund investments improve it will be off-set.

Glasgow Life published a staff update in March predicting losses of £20m for 2020/21.

It had been mitigating losses using furlough as best it could.

Its losses during the Covid-19 year were not much more than it sustained in 2018/19.

The difference is last month GCC said it would provide a £100m “safety net” to stabilise Glasgow Life’s financial position.

So why should any venue remain closed?

The Scottish Government has received billions of extra funding to avoid this very thing.

For me this looks like Glasgow Life is trying to off-load community assets that can’t be monetised or generate an income.

I mean you don’t run a library on the pennies from the late return of books.

Community centres, small sports facilities and libraries aren’t money spinners.

But they’re vital for the lifeblood of communities.

Covid-19 may be a convenient excuse to make cuts for commercial reasons.

Which brings us back to a fundamental question: why has the purpose of Glasgow Life changed?

It was set up supposedly as more efficient way to deliver council services.

Efficiency doesn’t mean off-loading assets that cost you money.

The suggestion from Glasgow Life that closed libraries will be replaced with “pop-up” ones in other venues is tawdry and shameful.

The most liberating thing you can do to change someone’s life is enable them to learn.

I’ve spent years of my life in libraries as a child and adult.

They are an essential source of education and empowerment.

The greatest concentration of poverty and inequality of opportunities in Scotland are to be found in Glasgow.

Closing libraries, sports facilities and community halls will exacerbate inequality.

GCC cannot hide behind Glasgow Life.

It’s their creature.

We need to have a conversation about the importance of community facilities.

We need to acknowledge that public funds are vital to pay for many of these facilities.

They are an essential investment in our communities - a means for people to learn, get fit, socialise, organise and take part in local events.

It’s time for GCC to fight for what’s right.

For all elected members in Glasgow to listen to their communities and ensure that all of our local facilities are re-opened.

Blaming the pandemic won’t wash.