Once Covid passes, what will be left of our community venues?

Monday, June 28, 2021

Euan Blockley at the Couper Institute Public HallOver the past year we have all made huge sacrifices to keep the pandemic under control with the promise that life would return to normal when it ended. The issue we now face as a city is, what community venues will we be left with when the dust settles?

The disconnect that our ‘City Government’ and Glasgow Life have with our communities is even worse and more damaging than first feared. The recent announcements from the Council have done nothing to quell justified concerns as they attempt to spin themselves out of the current crisis.

Just one such example is Barlia football pitches in Castlemilk within my ward. Over a year of poor communication and empty promises has left the pitch closed with local clubs having to play home games elsewhere and children, enthused by Scotland’s Euro qualification, being faced with padlocked gates. What kind of message does this send about how seriously our Council takes the national game? I have been persistent in my approach, along with Castlemilk Community Football, to push for answers from Glasgow Life and to see the pitch and facilities reopened to the public.

Not too far from Barlia is the Couper Institute, a facility that has stood in Cathcart for over 100 years and is also suffering from short sighted decisions made by Glasgow Life. The ‘Save The Couper’ campaign was set up and twinned with other such campaigns to save Libraries across the city and have been hosting community ‘read-ins’ every Saturday. It has been uplifting to see so many residents gathered and united with a common goal to save this facility that has become so important to so many over the years.

And it is not just in Linn ward, or even the Southside, that libraries face closure. Whiteinch Library, Pollokshields Library, and Maryhill Library, to name a few, are also at risk. It would be a great shame to lose these facilities that are steeped in history and have served the lives of people in these communities for decades. Not only this, but future generations face losing out too.

I am aware of and accept the position that Glasgow Life find themselves in which is the almost total loss of their ‘earned income’ from rentals and events due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, I do not accept that there is no other option other than to keep venues, like the Couper, shut until earned income returns. This runs a significant risk as this income will not return over-night and it is my view, as well as that of my party, that it is for the Scottish Government to step in and provide gap funding to allow Glasgow to re-open its community facilities.

Euan Blockley
Glasgow Conservative Group Depute Leader & Councillor for Linn Ward

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