Model letter to Glasgow Councillors Pollok Park/Go Ape proposal
We understand Land Services wishes to proceed with the Go Ape proposal despite the 800 written and 5000 petition objections to date as well as failure to get National Trust consent under the terms of the 1939 Conservation Agreement.
We also understand that in order to alleviate some of the worst aspects of the development – the two proposed new wooden structures outside the Burrell Museum windows and the lack of toilet facilities – Land Services now proposes to convert Knowehead Lodge, an Arts and Crafts house dating from about 1900. This is presently used as the Park Manager’s office, and under the revised plan it would be offered to Go Ape as their reception area and as public toilets. The building lies outside the area of planning consent granted in April 2008.
The Campaign obtained a legal opinion from Brodies Solicitors, confirming others expressed during 2008, that Pollok Park is part of the Common Good of the City of Glasgow even although it does not appear on the register. In December 2008 the Council’s Finance Committee approved a new policy on Common Good including a commitment to place all assets on the Register as soon as possible. The Scottish Government has issued guidelines stating all registers should be updated by March 2009. You may be aware that any income from Common Good assets is allocated to the Common Good Fund to be spent “for the benefit of the community” and cannot be spent by Council departments for services. The Committee agreed that a further decision will be made on the mechanisms for allocation of this spend.
You will also be aware of recent press reports of a potential serious financial deficit in 2009/10 for Glasgow.
In the light of the above could you please obtain answers to the following questions:
Given that Knowehead Lodge lies outside the planning consent area and there will be a change of use will you support a call for a new planning application and public consultation?
How much will the proposed conversion of Knowehead Lodge for Go Ape cost?
If the Council is to pay for conversion costs, what budget will it come out of and what Committee will have to give its approval?
If Go Ape are to pay – what will be the reduced rental offered to Go Ape or rent free period?
One of the main reasons given for the choice of Pollok Park for Go Ape was that neither the Council nor Go Ape was prepared to invest in new public toilets (using the Burrell Museum instead). Given that discussions are now underway way to invest in new toilets, the choice of Pollok Park is no longer valid. Consequently what alternative sites and parks are also being considered?
When will Pollok Park be placed on the Council’s Common Good Assets Register?
The Executive Committee in Feb 2007 approved the lease of part of Pollok Park (subject to consultation and legal considerations). The report on which this decision was based gave two justifications only:
provision of recreation facilities and
the commercial income from rental to Go Ape.
Land Services stated publicly in Jan 2008 that this income would accrue to LES departmental services. Given that Pollok is part of the Common Good and all income goes to the Common Good Fund and cannot be used for service delivery in this way, it is clear that the Committee was misled.
An additional proposal as part of the agreement was that the Council would receive 450 free places per year (out of a potential 30,000+) for disadvantaged schoolchildren. This is a standard offer by Go Ape. There is evidence from other Go Ape locations (eg. Buxton) that this offer is never taken up for two reasons:
1.The liability for safety placed on teachers is not acceptable to Education departments, head teachers or the Unions
2.The ratio of teachers to children required by Go Ape (1:2) would mean that a class of 30 would need 15 teachers resulting in the closure of much of the school
In the light of the above could you please answer the following question:
What consultations have taken place with Education Dept and Glasgow schools re liability and staff /student ratios for visiting Go Ape and which schools have said they will take up any offer of free places?
It is clear from the information above that Land Services are now proposing major changes to the Executive Committee decision in Feb 2007 and Planning Consent in April 2008 due to:
significant revisions to the arrangements for buildings and toilets
consequent possible revision to the terms of a lease
the inability of LES to acquire the income due to Common Good status
Please confirm you will support a call that a new report be submitted to the Executive Committee for approval, based on the major changes outlined above.