Glasgow Life: still a closed book on library reopenings

Living Rent demands that Councillor David McDonald gives local communities honest answers on our services!

It has been nearly one year since libraries, community centres and others vital services across Glasgow were closed. This has left local communities without access to essential resources in a time of great need. While we continue to respect the restrictions in place necessary to control the virus, the pandemic cannot be allowed to serve as a convenient cover for local austerity. Living Rent is organising to ensure that Glasgow City Council (GCC) and Glasgow Life meet their responsibilities and guarantee the future of our city’s public resources.

In November 2020, Living Rent union members in Govanhill, Pollokshields and Shawlands, along with other residents, came together to demand answers from Glasgow Life on the ongoing closure of our local libraries. Hundreds of signatures were collected on a petition calling for a clear plan and transparent communication, followed by a successful day of action across the southside, and meetings with local councillors. On December 9th, with community mobilisation growing, Glasgow Life announced that twelve libraries would reopen before the end of March.

The day after, GCC passed a motion instructing Councillor David McDonald, Deputy Leader of GCC and Chair of Glasgow Life, to write a report setting out ‘the steps Glasgow Life is taking to engage with communities about plans to reopen venues and find alternative ways of delivering services in communities whilst facilities remain closed.’ However, no report has yet been communicated. This is despite Glasgow Life stating that it was ‘taking a phased approach to the reopening.’

Many questions remain unanswered. There is continuing confusion around the building repairs for Pollokshields library that were due to commence in January 2021, while in Langside library, the heating and electrical systems are in need of replacement. Although funding has seemingly been secured for refurbishment, we are left with no update on when the work will be carried out. 

Throughout the pandemic, Living Rent has actively campaigned for public health measures to keep tenants and local communities safe and secure. However, we are equally clear that there is no excuse for the absence of a long-term plan to ensure libraries and other vital services reopen. Transparent and honest communication with the local communities they serve is the least we can expect of GCC and Glasgow Life. 

We therefore ask David McDonald directly: 

When will the promised reopening report be produced and shared with local residents?

Our communities deserve answers!