Council plans on museums ‘against party policy’

Plans by Labour-run Glasgow City Council to hand over control of its museums, galleries and sports facilities to an independent charitable trust is against party policy, it has been claimed.

Opposition politicians and unions have pointed to Labour’s latest policy document which opposes the creation of charities for outsourcing services, claiming there is a massive paradox between what the party is pledging and what its largest council is trying to do.

The policy was inserted into Scotland’s Future: Report of the Scottish Policy Forum at the insistence of the Labour-affiliated public-sector union Unison.

It is understood it was drafted in 2006 with specific reference to proposals at Fife Council to hand over the management of its facilities to a trust, and was approved last November at Labour’s Scottish conference in Oban.

The policy states: “We will look at ways to ensure the legitimate incentives that apply to charities are not used as vehicles for outsourcing by local authorities.”

Unison, which is pursuing a number of avenues to halt the hiving off of the culture and leisure department, has been quietly raising the issue with Labour politicians in an effort to encourage them to highlight the contradictions with its elected members in Glasgow.

But the policy document has now fallen into the hands of opposition councillors, who will use the proposed transfer and creation of Culture and Sport Glasgow, which has now been cleared by Scotland’s charities regulator, as an election issue.

Christopher Mason, leader of Glasgow council’s LibDems, said: “This is an extraordinary twist to the tale of (GCC leader) Steven Purcell’s crusade to Blairise’ the council.

“This part of the Labour Party’s new policy statement was written with the deliberate purpose of committing it to oppose the kind of thing Steven is seeking to do.”

Mike Kirby, Glasgow branch secretary for Unison, added: “Unison was instrumental in having this policy included and of course we are raising this with politicians in the run-up to the elections. We’re concerned the party in Glasgow is moving away from the general policies in Scotland.”

But John Lynch, executive member for culture and sport, said: “Dr Mason’s comments are disingenuous and clearly an attempt by the LibDems to hide from the fact their expensive plans for a Local Income Tax would add 6.5p in every pound to income-tax bills.”