On Wednesday 17th March, Living Rent members took action to mark one year since over a hundred libraries, gyms, community centres and other local services in Glasgow were closed.
Living Rent members understand the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, but Glasgow Life has left communities largely in the dark about the future of these essential resources in a time of great need.
Across from Glasgow Life’s plush offices in Albion Street, banners were hung with the slogans: ‘Glasgow City Council: Selling off the silverware?’ and ‘Glasgow doesn’t work for free!’.
Members in Dennistoun, Govanhill, Hillhead, Maryhill, Pollokshields and Shawlands displayed dozens of testimonies from local residents sharing their stories.
Ian, Langside: ''Libraries are important to me because they are one of the few places in society where it doesn’t matter what money you have you can go in and read, socialise, access services and have somewhere warm to be in and afternoon.''
Samantha, Dennistoun: ''The library is a vital place for parents. Especially those with new babies. Being able to interact, communicate and get support from others is imperative to both the parent and child. Having the breastfeeding workshop, and book bug sessions are a key tool to those in need. Missing out on these has had a huge impact on us socially, mentally and the development of our children.''
Community action and pressure eventually led to Glasgow Life publishing a report on the future plans for the facilities, which gave a timetable for safe venue reopening. We are pleased that GCC has secured £100million for Glasgow Life to reopen 93 venues by April 26th but the future of dozens venues is still uncertain.
Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life have said that they want to empower communities by offering community groups, organisations and entrepreneurs the chance to take over management of local services, buildings and facilities. But we need to know:
Will they be properly funded?
Will they still belong to all the people of Glasgow?
Will volunteers replace unionised workers?
Will local communities have power over investment or cuts?
Will free services become commercial?
Living Rent members are clear - we won’t stand for local austerity and will continue to defend our local services. And we’re building real community power to defend the common wealth of our city!
We are calling for a public meeting on the 28th April for all Glasgow residents who care about their local services to come together and discuss what the ‘People Make Glasgow Communities’ means for the future of our services.
Read the Glasgow Times article here