Council to cover Pollok project shortfall

A Pollok charity is set to get £900,000 from Glasgow City council to finish work on a community hub after construction costs soared.

South West Arts & Music Project (SWAMP) is turning a former housing office on Brockburn Road into a community hub
South West Arts & Music Project (SWAMP) is turning a former housing office on Brockburn Road into a community hub

The council is planning to step in to help South West Arts & Music Project (SWAMP) which is turning a former housing office on Brockburn Road into a hub for local groups and social enterprises.

Council bosses believe the group provides “valuable” services and failing to plug a funding gap of around £875,000 would be “disastrous” for the community.

Costs have risen for a number of reasons including Covid, Brexit and skilled labour shortages, a council report stated.

SWAMP has delivered a range of services in the area over 20 years and, during the pandemic, set up the G53 Together structure, a collective of groups, volunteers and local people.

It runs a ‘G53 Together’ community helpline, from the hub, which has assisted over 3,000 residents with food, energy, school clothing, welfare and mental health support issues.

Councillor Kenny McLean, city convener for neighbourhoods, housing and public realm, said: “With the project at an advanced stage of construction and a funding gap that the organisation is unable to fill, the project is in danger of not being able to complete, which would be disastrous for the organisation and the community within which they deliver valuable services.

“The organisation has, therefore, reached out to the council requesting funding of up to £900,000 to close the current gap and provide an additional modest sum for contingency purposes.”

SWAMP has a 10-year lease for the Brockburn Road premises from City Property, one of the council’s arms-length organisations.

Over the period of the pandemic, SWAMP has assisted over 8,000 households in the area either directly or indirectly.

The community hub, which includes a food pantry, will also have a community cafe once the expansion project is complete.

A first tranche of funding, totalling £125,000, was granted to SWAMP by the council in June 2019. Since then, the organisation has expanded the services it provides and “embarked on another phase of capital investment in their building.”

The latest project was expected to cost between £900,000 and £1.1 million, but work is now estimated to cost £1.5 million and £780,000 has been secured from the Scottish Government’s regeneration capital grant fund.

The charity has also been handed £50,000 from the Robertson Trust, £78,000 from sustainability fund ‘CARES’ and will provide £20,000 itself.

“When anticipated out-turn costs are compared against secured funding, a funding gap of £572,000 exists,” the council report said; “However, there has been an additional unforeseen VAT liability of up to £300,000.”

A condition of the £900,000 council funding will ensure “any VAT recovery that is achieved will be refunded to the council”.

The council report claims due to the shift in the organisation’s focus during the pandemic, SWAMP is discussing a name change to ‘Greater Pollok Development Trust’.

Its community hub aligns with the objectives of the council’s People Make Glasgow Communities programme, which gives local groups the chance to take over venues or services.

Once finished, the hub will offer access to advice and support, training and volunteering opportunities, community events, the food pantry, media, music, craft workshops and a new community cafe.