Council group volunteers in row over rent

DAVID LEASK

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DAVID LEASK

EXCLUSIVE

VOLUNTEERS running a Glasgow community hall on a shoestring for Glasgow City Council have been ordered to pay rent - by the local authority.

The group - in Broomhouse - is the latest good cause hit by a get-tough new letting stance by the council's landlord firm, City Property.

The unpaid management committee has run the hall on behalf of the city for three decades, providing a home for everything from the local Scout group to a budgie-fancier club.

It was asked to pay rent - £500 a year - and be responsible for repairs and insurance this month after members asked the council if they could change its name to commemorate their late chairman Davie Cummins.

New chairwoman, Mary Wilson, said: "We asked if we could call the hall the David Cummins Memorial Hall and were told we would need a lease and pay £500 a year.

"That doesn't sounds like a lot of money but we only got a bit more than £7500 to run the hall a year from the council and that is after a cut from £9000.

"A lease would also make us responsible for repairs and insurance - and this is a wooden building.

"City Property will have a real fight on their hands over this because the hall is the only community facility in Broomhouse.

"We have no shops, no school, nothing apart from it."

Both Labour and SNP councillors backed the name change - without realising that it would expose the hall committee to a lease.

David Turner, an SNP councillor, said: "City Property have been doing this kind of thing across the city - we have seen how higher rents and new leases have affected charities and businesses.

"This is money that is being taken out of our communities."

A City Property spokesman said: "This is a council-owned community facility which is managed and run by the community group.

"The request for a change of name brought to light the fact that no lease was in place.

"City Property is now formalising this occupancy and bringing it in line with other tenanted community halls across the city which hold formal leases and pay concessionary rent.

"We will provide the necessary support and guidance to the group."

The £500 rent being proposed is considered to be concessionary.

The council spokesman added: "The Broomhouse Hall Management Committee received £7,830 in this financial year and will get the same again in 2014/15 as a contribution towards its operating costs.

"This was reduced from £9000 in 2012/13 to reflect the need to make efficiency savings, as happened with many other similar groups across the city.

"This was approved by the council in December 2012."

City Property, which is wholly owned by Glasgow City Council, "bought" around 2000 business premises from the local authority in 2010 for £120m.

This money was used to fund a series of early retirement deals.

City Property now has to raise enough rents to cover payments on this mortgage.

Local government

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