City Chambers and Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow to be SOLD to fund final equal pay deal

The City Chambers and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum are to be sold to pay for the final settlement of Glasgow’s equal pay claims.

The first round of equal pay settlements three years ago left a vacuum for further claims to be made and potentially others until a new pay and grading system was put in place.

A further £270m is needed to settle all claims and the sites in the deal have been valued at £200m.

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To fund the payments, the council is selling the City Chambers, Kelvingrove, Kelvin Hall, Gallery of Modern Art and two new schools to council-owned City Property and will lease them for an annual cost.

The council said the buildings remain the property of the city and there will be no changes to the operation of museums, city chambers or schools.

In 2019, the council struck a similar, larger deal to fund around £500m for the first batch of equal pay deals for 15,000 mostly female workers, including a sale and transfer- lease on facilities such as the Armadillo, Town Halls and Scotstoun Stadium.

The 2019 deal was funded through a sale-leaseback agreement, with independent wholly-owned City Property Glasgow Investments LLP borrowing to buy a portfolio of operational buildings from the Council and then re-letting them.

A similar deal is planned for the latest round of settlements.

Elaine Galletley, chief financial officer, said in a report to advisers: “All operational activities at these properties will continue as normal and will not be affected by the sale-leaseback proposals.

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Labor leader George Redmond expressed concern about valuations.

He said City Chambers was valued at £18million, adding: “There would be a queue to buy this at valuation.”

He added: “I wouldn’t want the City Chambers to be part of the deal given the emotional attachment the people of the city have with him.”

Council leader Susan Aitken said: “Kelvingrove and Kelvin Hall are also extremely close to Glasgowians, as many were in the first installment.

“The fact that these constructions are being built shows the seriousness, the commitment that we have taken to see things through to the end.

“We knew that in 2019 there would be another phase to cover the gap period.

“We always understood that we had to start over.

“This option to fundraise in this way is not available to us in the future if we wanted to fundraise for other purposes.”

She added: “It’s a big deal. there’s no doubt about it, but it’s the price, the cost of past discrimination and to ensure that future discrimination is eradicated from pay and grading systems.”

She added: “Raising that kind of sum is exceptionally difficult – and the high-profile properties involved, particularly in this second tranche, illustrate that.

“However, the city’s historic failures on equal pay come at a price – and unlocking the potential of our property, while keeping it in city ownership, at least protects the services and future of these valuable assets.”

Redmond said Labor would support him.

He said, “Let’s go, let’s settle this.”

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