Closed Glasgow community centres could become ‘welcoming places’ to help citizens struggling with cost of living

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Plans for the future of 18 closed community centres in Glasgow have been drawn up – with some set to open as ‘welcoming places’ to help citizens struggling with the cost of living.

Five venues could be used as ‘welcoming places’ and would be the priority for reopening. These are: St Francis, Netherton, Possilpoint, Pollok and Cranhill community centres. Three more community centres, Geoff Shaw, Pollokshields and the Couper Institute, are also set to reopen.

Six venues could open under the People Make Glasgow Communities (PMGC) programme, a scheme set up to give community groups an opportunity to run facilities, but there is a “risk” that organisations would not be able to sustain funding beyond this financial year.

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The six centres are: Ruchazie, Shettleston, Garrowhill, Molendinar, Tollcross and Balgrayhill.

Partick Burgh Hall, Drumchapel and Barmulloch community centres, in use as vaccination centres until March 31, would reopen at the end of the agreement with the NHS.

It is proposed Ruchill community centre also reopens in 2023 to 2024 after repairs, estimated to take six months, have been carried out.

The plans come after £1.1 million was set aside in the council’s budget, set in February, to help reopen venues. Councillors will be presented with the options for the allocation of the funding on Thursday.

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Pollok Community Centre is one of the venues on the listPollok Community Centre is one of the venues on the list
Pollok Community Centre is one of the venues on the list | Glasgow Life

Glasgow’s ‘welcoming places’ will offer a space for citizens struggling to cover heating costs this winter as well as offering welfare advice, food and drink. Work is ongoing to finalise a full list of venues.

Council officials have worked on developing “alternative management options” to support reopening venues, a report to councillors stated.

It added seven community organisations are in the later stages of the PMGC process and most “are operating the venue they wish to manage under a short-term licence to occupy (LTO).”

The report said: “This provides them with a stepping-stone approach before committing to a long-term arrangement. Under LTOs, the third sector group is “responsible for a proportion of the operating costs.”

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The report continued: “This could potentially enable more community centres to re-open at a reduced cost to Glasgow City Council until the full transfer takes place and all costs are met by the organisation taking over.”

However, due to the cost of living crisis, groups are “facing the challenge of increased staff, energy and maintenance costs which is making the financial viability of operating community venues increasingly challenging.”

The report admitted there is a “risk third sector organisations taking on LTOs are unable to sustain the operation of the venue beyond the period of transitional funding in 2022 to 2023.”

Under the plans, eight venues opening this year will be operated by Glasgow Life, which runs culture and leisure services for the council, and six by community organisations through the PMGC scheme.

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Funding for 2022 to 2023 will help Glasgow Life share costs for the centres opening under the PMGC programme with third sector operators.

In 2023 to 2024, the £1.1 million will “revert to the full year funding of the 12 venues that will continue to be operated by Glasgow Life.”

The six PMGC venues would need to be funded by the third sector groups running them.

A takeover of the Barmulloch community centre is also being considered under the PMGC scheme but it won’t be open until next year due to its use as a vaccination centre.

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Netherton, Cranhill, the Couper Institute and Ruchill are in the earlier stages of the PMGC process while Pollokshields is also being assessed under that programme. Asset transfer proposals have been received for Possilpoint and Geoff Shaw.

Of the venues operated by Glasgow Life, three would open for two shifts a day, Monday to Friday, (St Francis, Possilpoint and Pollok) and five would open for one shift per day, Monday to Friday (Cranhill, Netherton, Geoff Shaw, Pollokshields, Couper Institute).

Reopening and revenue costs for the 18 venues can be viewed online here.

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