Glasgow council votes to hand over museums and galleries to trust - Museums Association

Glasgow council votes to hand over museums and galleries to trust

After months of speculation Galsgow City Council has voted to transfer its culture and leisure services to a new charitable …
Felciity Heywood
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After months of speculation Galsgow City Council has voted to transfer its culture and leisure services to a new charitable trust set to be incorporated from 1 April.

The new trust, named Culture and Sport Glasgow, will be responsible for all 13 of the city's museums and galleries along with its libraries, community halls and golf courses.

The full council voted 58 to eight in favour of moving to trust status. The decision must be approved by the charity regulator. Glasgow will be the 16th Scottish local authority to make this move.

As a trust, Culture and Sport Glasgow will be able to attract additional funding. The shift in status for its culture and leisure services will also enable the council to avoid non-domestic rates.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said it was the Kelvingrove experience that highlighted the case. 'We made 4,000 business contacts through the Kelvingrove appeal that could give to sports and local community facilities.'

The trust has calculated that in its first year (2007/08) it will save £7.4m calculated on rates savings and fundraising growth. This would rise to a maximum of £49m over five years. It has estimated its turnover at £90m - based on current figures.

The Scottish National Party member and leader of the council opposition, John Mason, said: 'The decision is based on finances. I am very sceptical about the savings.' Mason also questioned new funding avenues. 'Kelvingrove was refurbished at a cost of £29m with masses of lottery and private money. What wonderful thing is going to happen that hasn't already happened.'

From April, 2,500 staff will transfer to the trust. But staff are uncertain and concerned about their future. A staff demonstration in February attracted national publicity but achieved little else.

Kate Riordan, a visitor assistant at Kelvingrove and a Glasgow city staff representative for the Unison union, said staff are worried about what the trust means for their jobs. She said the business plan was vague on this point and 'morale is pretty low. There is the fear of the unknown'.

John Murdoch, joint branch secretary of Glasgow city Unison, criticised the trust for its 'negligible' consultation. He said: 'We were dealing with a fait accompli.'

Murdoch said: 'The level of investment is optimistic.' And he added that it was unclear whether the trust had fully budgeted to guarantee staff pensions or costed the building repairs, which would be the responsibility of the new business. A series of meetings between Unison and the council is set to take place.

Felicity Heywood

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