All Glasgow sites to be ‘sold’ to finance equal pay plan including Kelvingrove and GOMA

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The council has insisted that citizens will not see any difference on a day-to-day basis in the remortgaging plan.

Glasgow is planning to ‘remortgage’ the city chambers, Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Kelvin Hall, and the Gallery of Modern Art to fund outstanding equal pay claims.

The venues, and two school campuses, would be sold to an arm’s length body – City Property Glasgow (Operations SL3) LLP – and then leased back.

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Loans would be taken out against the value of the buildings and the lease payments will be used to cover the borrowing costs. It is expected the deal will raise around £200m of an anticipated total of £270m.

Buildings will remain in the city’s ownership and the council insists citizens will not see any difference on a day-to-day basis.

The new deal would include: Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Kelvin Hall, Gallery of Modern Art, the City Chambers, Sighthill School Campus and Gowanbank School Campus.

A similar £500m+ deal, for 11 buildings including the Riverside Museum and Emirates Arena, was previously agreed in 2019 to provide a settlement for thousands of council staff.

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The full list of buildings previously sold by the council include: Emirates Arena, the Riverside Museum, SEC Armadillo, Scotstoun Leisure Centre, Tollcross International Swimming Centre, the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, City Halls, Toryglen Football Centre, and Gorbals Leisure and Bellahouston leisure centres.

Council leader Susan Aitken said: “I’m determined to deliver pay justice for thousands of women in our workforce.

“After a decade going round in circles in the courts, we made this a priority in the last council term and, in twelve months, reached a fair settlement through open and honest negotiations.

“This update is about putting the building blocks in place to finish that job. We are, again, making this a priority early in the council term and seeking to put right a wrong that has damaged the council, its workforce and the city for too long.”

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A new pay and grading system, expected by April 2024, still needs to be introduced as many, predominantly female workers, continue to be paid unfairly.

And, while claims up to March 31, 2018, were settled by the 2019 deal, there are new claims for the pre-2018 period as well as demands for further payments for April 2018 onwards.

Councillors approved the funding strategy at a meeting of the city administration committee on Thursday morning. It will come back to the committee after legal and financial terms of the deal have been concluded.

Cllr Aitken added: “Raising these kinds of sums is exceptionally challenging – and the high-profile properties involved, particularly in this second tranche, illustrates that.

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“However, the city’s historic failures on equal pay come at a price – and releasing the potential of our property, while keeping it in the city’s ownership, at least protects services and the future of these valued assets.”

The remaining £70m, to reach the estimated £270m, was raised as part of the 2019 deal and is being held in reserve. The previous deal, agreed in February 2019, has helped the council conclude settlements with over 15,000 claimants, represented by Action4Equality, Unison, GMB, and Unite.

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