21st December 2018
South Lanarkshire Council runs its leisure and culture activities – halls, libraries, museums, sports facilities Rutherglen Town Hall, Cambuslang Institute and similar facilities – through a semi-independent body called South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Limited which is set up as an arms-length charitable body.
But, after a major row involving the removal of the SNP Chair of the Leisure Trust Board by the SNP Administration itself, Rutherglen Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brownhas demanded that the Trust be opened up much more to public scrutiny.
At Wednesday’s meeting of the Council’s Executive Committee, Robert Brown secured an admission that the Leisure Trust required to be more transparent and that new arrangements would be proposed for the start of the new financial year.
Robert Brown said:
“South Lanarkshire Leisure & Culture Trust Ltd. holds its Board meetings in private, there is no public notification of its agenda and there are no published minutes of its decisions. Frankly thus is quite outrageous for a body which runs so many important Council facilities.
Following the publication of an exchange of correspondence between the former Chair of the Leisure Trust Board (who has been suddenly removed without public explanation by the SNP Administration) and the Council’s Head of Legal Services – which I had requested at the last Executive meeting – it emerged that the core reason for the change related to the issue of the relationship between the Trust and the Council following a complaint and threatened litigation.
Neither the Council nor the Executive Committee have had any kind of report on this which is clearly a major concern for both bodies. At the very least there could have been a confidential report to Councillors or perhaps to importance to key aspects of the Council’s business, rumbles on without Councillors having any kind of report or insight into the issues. Meantime there are no published minutes of the Trust nor any transparency of its operations and meetings.”
After the meeting, Robert Brown commented:
“This may sound like an argument amongst council insiders with no relevance to the public but in fact it is about the running of services that are important to everyone – swimming pools, libraries, halls, meeting places. For example there was a later item on the agenda indicating that the Council might have to bail out the Trust to the tune of an extra £400,000 this year. It is quite unacceptable to be in this position without the Trust Board being publicly accountable for it.”