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April 13, 2010

Community Centre closure – fight over Overnewton not over

 In the last Briefing we highlighted the plight of community centres in Glasgow, hived off to new arms- length company -  Culture and Sport Glasgow – and now earmarked for closure.    C&SG say the closures are based on low user numbers and the costs of repair.  But one of the centres, Overnewton Community Centre, tell us they are fighting back claiming the figures being used by CSG bare no relation to realit

From the Save Overnewton website

Glasgow City Council has chosen to ignore to concerns of the user of Overnewton Community Centre and pressed ahead with closure plans despite serious doubt over the financial figures and a complete lack of consultation with users.  Only the SNP, Greens and a few Labour councillors voted against the closures and we thank them for standing up for the users of ORC and the people of Glasgow in general.

GCC’s surveyors recently visited the community centre and found what the users have been saying all the time: the Centre does not need £78,000 – £125,000 of repairs. It needs less than £2000! Full report (1 page) from here

Rebranding exercise for Culture and Sport Glasgow

Commenting on reports that Culture & Sport Glasgow have spent £50,000 developing a new brand identity, at a time when they have withdrawn vital funding from community facilities across the city, SNP councillor Craig Mackay commented:

“The council have just approved Culture & Sport’s recommendation to close eleven community centres and halls across the city, based on a budget shortfall. I was therefore stunned to hear that at the same time they are spending tens of thousands of pounds on external consultancies to re-brand themselves.

“£50,000 would have been enough to keep several community halls open for a further year, which would have been sufficient time to develop sustainable community management structures outwith Culture & Sport. These halls provide a vital service to grassroots community organisations and sports clubs, and are one of the core functions Culture & Sport was set up to support. A shiny new logo will do nothing to help these groups, and this re-branding exercise could easily have waited until the financial situation was more favourable.

“I have been working with community organisations in an effort to save the Overnewton Recreation Centre in Yorkhill, and this news is simply a further kick in the teeth for the groups who will be displaced by its closure.”

Nina Baker, Green councillor for Anderston/City described the decision as a “disaster”.

She added: “I am furious that Culture and Sport Glasgow is spending £50,000 on a new logo at the same time they are closing Overnewton Community Centre for want of only £1,800 of basic repairs.

“Culture and Sport have their priorities all wrong if they think it is better to spend all that money on an image makeover rather than on keeping essential community centres open.

“They have never made any attempt to work with the community to find new users so the income could improve and are only interested in getting rid of the hall.

“They are a disgrace – all style and no substance.”

Ms Baker said the only alternative community meeting points in the area are in church halls some distance away, Kelvin Hall sports complex or in Partick.

She added: “If they take the community hall from us there will be no council community centre in the entire ward.”

A spokesman for CSG insisted £50,000 was a small amount to pay for a new brand and said the money was included in the marketing budget.

He added: “We presently have 55 different brands, including Glasgow Museums, the Mitchell Library and the Glasgow Club and we need to find a new brand structure to connect better with the public.

“We generate £21million in customer income every year.

“The £50,000 is a tiny amount compared to the millions spent by other organisations on rebranding.”

The Overnewton centre is one of 11 which will be closed down in a bid to save £3.4m next year.

The spokesman said: “The city council took the decision on which to close on the basis of the number of people using them and repair costs.”