'Pseudo-charity' threat to Glasgow's culture and leisure
by Chris Bartter
Outsourcing Glasgow's Cultural and Leisure is likely to prove
an election issue. Glasgow City Council is proposing to transfer
nearly 2,500 staff working in Glasgow's libraries, museums,
leisure centres, swimming pools and other sports facilities,
and arts development to a private charitable trust, in order
to avoid paying tax and business rates.
Council 'assets' - ie the physical artefacts owned by the
council will be safeguarded in the event of the need to bring
them back in-house - there are no such guarantees for staff.
The proposals are being rushed through the council with little
or no consultation, in order to set up the huge charity on
1 April before the elections.
UNISON has strongly objected to the proposals and it looks
likely that the hiving off will be a major issue in the upcoming
Kate Riordan, Glasgow Branch Convenor of Culture and Leisure
said, "These proposals will mean all of Glasgow's culture
and leisure services moving out of the control of the people
of Glasgow, and into the grasp of unelected bankers.
"The only reasons being given by the council are financial,
and there are major concerns from staff (and the public) about
the joined up services we currently provide and the long-term
viability of any trust - given the track record of other examples
The Branch has put a list of the major objections on its
This also lists three questions to ask candidates in the forthcoming
Whilst many other authorities have set up trusts to run sports
and leisure service, and some have also included museums,
this appears to be the first time that all these services
plus libraries are to be hived off. The introduction of a
huge 'pseudo-charity' of this sort is unlikely to be welcomed
in the voluntary sector.
In addition to a political campaign, UNISON is also investigating
legal challenges and negotiating with the Council to protect
staff caught up in the transfer.
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