These draft notes are published with the intention of sharing and feeding information back to the public as fully and as quickly as possible. They were taken at the Dennistoun Community Council (DCC) meeting held on Tuesday 8th January 2019 at Dennistoun Library, 2a Craigpark, Dennistoun G31 2NA from 7pm, providing an indication of the topics discussed and opinions heard under agenda item ‘7a – Public Input – Local Leisure Amenities‘.
There have been news reports, social media discussion, and an online petition relating to a leaked report about an apparent costings exercise carried out by Glasgow City Council. This is said to include consideration of the closure of leisure facilities across Glasgow, with Whitehill Pool and Leisure Centre among the facilities identified for potential closure.
In attendance at the meeting:
- Dennistoun Community Councillors Lauren Bennie (chair), Stephen Birrell, Angela Bretherton, Elaine Docherty, Brian Johnston, Ruth Johnston, Sean Kelly, Mary Wallace, David Williams, and Wesley Wright (minute taker).
- Dennistoun Ward Councillors Allan Casey, Kim Long, and Elaine McDougall.
- Calton Ward Councillors Robert Connelly, Jennifer Layden, and Cecilia O’Lone.
- Glasgow Provan MSP Ivan McKee.
- Public attendance put the library at full capacity.
After an introduction by the Chair, the Dennistoun Ward Councillors were given the opportunity to present opening comments, as follows:
- Cllr Casey was approached by a member of the public in 2018 regarding potential upgrades. The response provided by Glasgow Life was that no spend was planned.
- Cllr McDougall has written to Dr Bridget McConnell (Chief Executive Officer of Glasgow Life) to express unhappiness at lack of investment and the leaked proposal.
- Cllr Long acknowledged turnout, frustrations, and status of meeting as Ordinary CC meeting. Noted interest due to personal use as a starting point. Encouraged against thinking of this as a community vs community issue within Glasgow. Stated that the rojected gap to sustain services is £61m, and to illustrate scale, stated that a maximum permitted rise in Council Tax would generate £6m. Whitehill is understood to be the joint oldest venue in the Glasgow Life portfolio. There is a £5m backlog in spending on Whitehill Pool venue. Will focus on directing energies directed to Scottish Parliament for improved/required funding.
Following these statements, comments and questions from the public were invited.
Timeline of public input and councillor responses:
- The petitioning action was acknowledged.
- “The pool should be kept open, even if upgrades not possible.“
- Alan Scott (Milnbank HA Chair) noted the unprecedented strength of public interest.
- David Semple (PCS Union) noted that a demonstration is scheduled for 24th January.
- The effect on the High School was queried.
- The veracity of a cited £5m backlog figure was questioned, with a request for an itemised list to be made available.
- “This would be taking us back to the 50s, and schemes without facilities.“
- AB noted that heat and light provided by the plant room is used for the school PE block.
- Ivan McKee MSP acknowledged the strength of feeling and the effect of it. He said there had been an increase in funding in real terms from the Scottish Government compared to last year.
- A tenant of Glasgow Life noted the importance of front line services.
- A Whitehill Swimming Club member noted that a lack of disabled facilities had been identified in 2002. A refurbishment was suggested in 2011 and applications for money were made, but then deferred, in favour of work taking place at Woodside pool. Then 2012 saw money diverted to Commonwealth Games. Campaigning for money has been underway since. Funding was provided last year for disabled toilet facilities, and to close the pool would be a waste of that investment.
- The previous comment was seconded.
- A parent noted the sense of safety that the venue provides, and the lack of alternatives. The number of refurbishments and money spent on Tollcross was questioned.
- The general availability of Council facilities for young people was questioned.
- A regular user appealed for consideration of issues beyond bottom line accountancy. Health benefits, for example.
- Spending on Tollcross Pool was questioned again, with the suggestion that other local user facilities are being neglected and overlooked at the expense of larger prestige facilities that are supported by, for example, Sportscotland funding.
- The closure was presented in the context of attacks on the most vulnerable in society, and as a folllow-on from cuts that have been applied in other locations throughout the country, with a requirement to lobby politicians, in conjunction with other groups citywide.
- Cllr Connelly acknowledged public feeling and reiterated that closure is an option rather than a specific plan at present, while noting that some funding from central government is ringfenced.
- Cllr Layden noted the iterative process currently taking place and that the current assessments are based on the Scottish Government budget and only at a draft stage, with publication due on 21st February. Impact assessments will be undertaken as part of the budget setting process before presentation to Full Council for voting.
- Cllr Casey will be meeting with local swimming clubs and has made himself available for further consultation. He has not seen the leaked option proposals, and understood that to be the case for all other councillors present.
- Cllr McDougall could not recall any comparable cuts to Council facilities. A separate single issue public meeting was suggested.
- Fatima Uygun, manager of Govanhill Baths Community Trust, noted that leisure facilities should be considered an investment rather than a cost and identified the Council as ‘caretakers’ of public facilities. A £1m cost of heating the Emirates Arena was cited as an example of funding elsewhere.
- AB noted campaign success with, for example, RAPA, and the transfer of Golfhill primary school to the Whitehill site.
- Jim Watson, chairman of the Dennistoun war memorial committee, requested assurances from elected representatives that they were committed to keeping the pool open.
- The possiibility of formal enquiry options was raised, for example an FoI to GCC about spending and usage; FMQ by Ivan McKee about loss of venues; GCC equivalent of FMQ?
- John Bones noted the value of petitions and protests, with an expectation of DCC leading further campaigning.
- LB noted that DCC can call a Special Meeting to have public discussion on this as a single issue. This was proposed, and supported, with no objections.
- Ivan Mckee responded to note that, as a member of the Government, he can’t ask an FMQ but will write to relevant minister.
- FoI options will be looked into.
- Specific key dates leading into a decision being take were identified.
- All Cllrs confirmed their position as being 100% behind keeping Whitehill Pool open.
- Cllr Long has acquired usage figures, but questioned whether they assist the case, noting that comparable figures for other facilities are not available.
- LB appealed to those with campaigning experience to come forward to lead things going forward.
- Fatima appealed to those with a breadth of experience and abilities to come forward.
- SB reiterated the preceding comment.
- Unhappiness was expressed at the transparency of the decision-making process and about finding out about this via a newspaper leak.
- An appeal was made to encourage use.
- “Important that a local pressure group does not divide communities.”
- “The wide demographic range of users represents the true community nature of the facility.” Solidarity with other areas was encouraged. Dissatisfaction was expressed regarding the representations made by elected members present.
- A suggestion was made that this issue represents a wider financial and democratic failing. GCC were encouraged to default on debts.
- Eric Stephenson (Socialist Party) appealed to councillors to refuse to implement cuts.
- LB reiterated DCC activities and availability.
- Urgency regarding confirmation of a venue and date for the DCC Special Meeting was noted. It was agreed that this information would be published and circulated as soon as a suitable venue could be confirmed.
- Long term thinking was promoted, along with an acknowledgement of physical and mental health knock-on effects that would be associated with a closure.
- WW stated that these draft notes would be prepared and posted online overnight, with efforts made to also have a physical copy on the library notice board as soon as possible.
Due to the nature of the meeting it was not possible to check or verify all details as they were being presented. These notes have not been formally reviewed by DCC. They should not be taken as a verbatim indication of statements made. They are presented in good faith as an indication of the topics discussed and the opinions heard.
Approved minutes of the full meeting will be published in due course, in the usual manner, at dennistouncc.org.uk/minutes.
Please make a comment below or contact us if you wish to add a clarification.
Further information (i.e. venue, date and agenda for the DCC Special Meeting) will be provided as it becomes available.