GLASGOW’S culture and sport authority has been accused of a cover-up over plans to redevelop the home of Scotland’s top rugby team.
It has emerged that Glasgow Life, one of several arm’s-length organisations of Glasgow City Council, withheld documents requested under a Freedom of Information application that show the extent of proposals to increase the capacity of Scotstoun Stadium.
Bosses of Glasgow Warriors, the Scottish Rugby franchise team using the venue, are involved in talks with the council over plans to build two new stands at the stadium in the West End of the city.
Issues around seating capacity at the venue – where matches routinely sell out – have been under discussion for several years now.
Plans involve the rugby club entering a long-term occupancy agreement with the council, estimated at 25 to 30 years, with Glasgow Warriors as the primary tenant with exclusive use and management of the stadium.
If given the green light the permanent capacity at the venue would increase from 4765 to an estimated 14,500.
Full details of the proposal, which has not yet been submitted for planning permission, only came to light after the authority was ordered to release information it had previously withheld.
Glasgow Life initially disclosed only part of the Scotstoun Stadium Redevelopment Project Proposal requested under a Freedom of Information application made by a concerned resident.
However, the matter was referred to the Scottish Information Commissioner who instructed the release of the entire document including drawings showing the size of the two proposed new stands.
Glasgow Life said it believed releasing the documents would “inhibit free and frank exchange of views” as discussions are at a very early stage.
The case has now been taken up by Jordanhill Community Council, which says the document falsely claims the group supports the stadium redevelopment.
The community council’s two-part complaint to Glasgow Life alleges both “misappropriation of use of association with Jordanhill Community Council” and “alleged mis-leading of a public meeting.”
A spokesman for the community council, which has lodged a formal complaint against Glasgow Life, said: “We were astonished to see the document claim ‘all engaged thus far support the scheme.’
“Jordanhill Community Council categorically refutes that it has expressed any support for the scheme and the associated long-lease agreement.
“It is very misleading for Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Rugby Union and Glasgow Warriors to suggest otherwise.
“Their document also infers that the proposal was presented at a Public Meeting in September 2018 but this is not the case.”
Scotstoun Stadium’s permanent capacity has been increased in recent seasons to around 7,335 by the provision of three spectator stands consented for a temporary period of two years to accommodate increasing support for Glasgow Warriors.
Planning consent expired in September 2019, but the stands were still used for 10 games until March this year when the UK Government imposed lockdown.
A planning application to extend the temporary consent is presently under consideration with a public consultation closing on October 16, 2020.
Local residents claim increased traffic will create intolerable congestion and parking stress on match days while others say the scale of the development is disproportionate.
The community council spokesman added: “The Glasgow Family is not listening or responding to the concerns of the community.
“There is so much that is wrong about this proposal – including giving a long lease of a public service amenity to a private enterprise – and the way it has been handled.
“For Glasgow Life to initially withhold the drawings raises significant concerns but when you see the scale of the new stands it is little wonder they wanted to keep it quiet.
“To see a proposal of this magnitude that has unequivocally no respect for setting is absolutely outrageous.
“The south facing Victoria Park allotments are overshadowed by the scale of the proposed north stand, rendering community growing extremely difficult.
“The site is wrong for this scale of development.
“Scotstoun Stadium and surrounding infrastructure can’t even cope with existing match-day traffic so to be considering any increase is ridiculous.
“The ineffectiveness of present transport measures to reduce car dependency for matches is another concern to residents.
“Until such time as this can be made to work no further proposal should be considered to increase spectator capacity.”
A spokeswoman for Glasgow Life said: “The information released relates to the potential development of the stadium and reflected early dialogue between stakeholders.
“These documents do not and have not ever formed part of any final proposals, nor have they been submitted to any formal planning process or committee.
“As no decision on the proposal had been made, Glasgow Life believed premature disclosure of this information would substantially inhibit the free and frank exchange of views in future.
“Releasing the information would, in Glasgow Life’s view, damage the quality and effectiveness of a commercially sensitive planning process.
“However, we accepted the Information Commissioner’s findings and released the information to the applicant.
“Glasgow Life has engaged on numerous occasions with the local community around Scotstoun at public meetings and through other consultation mechanisms.
“This has involved several meetings with Jordanhill Community Council and other neighbouring community councils.
“We are committed to working with the local community and if we return to reviewing stadium development in the future, following the recovery of our services after the global pandemic of Covid-19, we will engage with the appropriate audiences once again, as we always have.”
Glasgow Warriors was contacted for comment.