Four Glasgow venues one step closer to being leased by communities

Four closed Glasgow Life venues have moved a step closer to being run by community groups after talks over leases were approved.

Negotiations over the future of Langside Hall, Woodside Hall, Glasgow Club Drumoyne and the Molendinar Community Centre will now take place.

Leases are being considered under the council’s People Make Glasgow Communities programme, which allows organisations to manage buildings in their area.

The venues are all currently leased by Glasgow Life, which runs culture and leisure services for the council, and three of them have been closed since the start of the covid pandemic. Langside Hall was shut in 2017 for essential maintenance.

Langside Hall is one of the venues which could be leased.

The Langside Halls Trust, a registered charity with over 400 members, is keen to take over the A-listed building and wants to run a “commercially viable” community hub, offering a theatre and performance space as well as a venue for hire.

Community Central Hall (CCH), a trust which runs Maryhill Hall, is interested in taking on Woodside Hall. Some groups who used the Glenfarg Street venue before the pandemic have been accommodated by CCH at Maryhill Hall, but want to return to their former home.

Speaking at the council contracts and property committee, yesterday Councillor Ken Andrew asked whether CCH would be able to occupy the building before any lease was agreed. A council officer said temporary arrangements could be made.

Glasgow Club Drumoyne, built in 2010 as part of the Drumoyne Campus, could be managed by Park Villa Football Development, which has over 200 members.

The facility has a floodlit 3G pitch, two grass football pitches, a rugby pitch, a four-court sports hall, gym and dance and fitness studios.

St Paul’s Youth Forum wants to run the Molendinar Community Centre, on Royston Road, which includes a sports hall, dance studio, meeting room, gym, IT suite and community cafe.

The charity, which focuses on the parish of St Paul’s Church and aims to alleviate the worst effects of poverty, believes the centre would help it to expand its services.

Councillor Ruairi Kelly said: “The SNP were elected on a platform of community empowerment and supporting community organisations to manage facilities in their neighbourhoods and maximise their potential is what we are doing.

“There are already a number of very successful examples of this, FARE at Stepford being one of them, and I am sure we will see this model replicated where suitable.

“The ability of locally focused and more agile organisations to leverage in funding that may not be accessible to the council will allow a quicker process of facility and service investment and improvement, trusting that communities are best placed to make decisions on their local amenities.”

Critics of the scheme believe the venues should stay in public control, with unions previously raising concerns over offloading facilities to volunteers.

When councillors agreed to begin negotiations, they accepted an amendment from Councillor Jon Molyneux, of the Greens at the committee.

It stated, when appropriate, terms should be included which maintain “a high level of public and democratic scrutiny over the operation of the council-owned facility” and “close alignment” with council policies.

The amendment added there should be “options of recourse should either of these things cease to be maintained” or “if any actions are taken by the leaseholder which the council considers detrimental to its reputation or to the wider public interest.”

The council’s budget for the coming financial year included £1.2 million towards reopening closed venues and a council official said Glasgow Life is currently deciding how they will use that money.

He said: “I suspect if a building already has a potential life of opening in another route, it may well be that the course of wisdom is to divert that £1.2 million to stuff that doesn’t have any sort of lifeline.”

The officer added: “These four reports for People Make Glasgow Communities are only requesting permission to go to this development stage and it’s in the development stage that we really get to grips with understanding the capacity of the organisations to deliver a financially sustainable products for us and really understand what capital investment requirements are.

“We have got absolutely no desire to effectively just hand the keys over to our assets and let those organisations sink or swim. We are in it for the long-term with those organisations as well. It will be a favourable outcome for the entire council if we are able to maintain these in a financially sustainable way.”