Historic fund will no longer pay for parties

COUNCILLORS are to stop using £150,000 from Glasgow's Common Good Fund to pay for parties for visiting conference delegates.

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Politicians have traditionally used the historic public kitty to pay for civic receptions and their own dining room rather than to help citizens.

As reported in the Evening Times this month, Glasgow became the last city in Scotland to close its subsidised buffet – which was paid for with £122,000 from the fund.

Now councillors will also slash £150,000 of spending from the fund on civic receptions for conference delegates.

A paper to go before the Finance and Audit Scrutiny Committee this week states such expenditure would be "better met from other existing budgets that support the holding of conferences in Glasgow".

Councillors had already approved a Common Good budget for 2013-14.

This has now been torn up and replaced by a new one scheduled to be approved by councillors on the committee.

The council has still to confirm exactly when the subsidised dining room will close and be replaced by a coffee shop operating on a commercial footing.

Crucially, however, the dining room's buffet subsidy for this financial year is expected to be formally cancelled by the Scrutiny Committee.

Green Party Councillor Nina Baker, who represents the city centre, has been lobbying hard for Common Good cash to be used to help citizens and not politicians.

She said: "I would like to see these savings (from civic receptions and buffets) used to create a fund to which residents and groups could apply for support to run activities that are not suited to the locality-based criteria of the wards' Area Committee funds.

"One of the valid criticisms of the way Glasgow has operated the Common Good Fund for many years is that it has been hard to show direct benefit to citizens, which is the fund's sole reason to exist."

A council spokesman said: "Civic receptions have been invaluable in supporting Glasgow's growth as a leading destination for conventions and exhibitions, while other events are held to honour and celebrate local groups and achievements.

"The proposals draw a distinction between those two types of civic event and ensure both are funded appropriately."

david.leask@ heraldandtimes.co.uk


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