Raising money by selling protected land is proving to be problematic
GLASGOW City Council’s decision to give long-term protection to certain open spaces has been acknowledged with an environmental award.
Leader Frank McAveety says “having access to outdoor space... has benefits for individuals and families”.
Yet at the same time the council is intent upon selling other open spaces to raise capital for the cash-strapped council. This is proving difficult to implement. Scottish ministers have decided the council should not have given permission for flats to be built on North Kelvin Meadow open space.
A city council spokesman protests: “This intrusion into local government is equivalent to depriving a Glasgow community of a new school” (“Government refuses to let council sell Meadow site to developer”, The Herald, December 22).
He says legal opinion on this decision will be sought, presumably to try and get the decision reversed so the open space can be sold. The council has declared other open spaces surplus to requirements using officers’ delegated powers. Subsequent action by City Property to market them is being opposed.
Recently Scottish ministers have been asked by local campaigners to call in plans seeking to build flats and car parking on the protected green space Elephant Park in Maryhill.
Even though the planning policy designates the land to be protected, the Department of Regeneration Services has been working with a developer invited by City Property to build on the green space.
Promoting sale of the protected land and considering a planning application is a conflict of interest.
Government officers have acknowledged receipt of the call in request and have been in contact with the council, which appears to have snookered the sale of the open space.
Residents in Broomhill Avenue are also campaigning to stop another developer from building flats on a protected green corridor which council officers want to see sold, having successfully stopped a previous attempt to do so.
Raising capital by selling “protected” council land is proving to be difficult.
Open space is an amenity that benefits health, saving health-care expense. Raising revenue by selling designated open spaces does not meet the needs of Glasgow’s endemic deprived areas and ill-health.
Council policies are needed that address both the problem of financial austerity and the needs of a postindustrial area.
Radically new policies are needed that stop the sale of council land for speculative unplanned uses and promote sustainable economic activity with community involvement.
This can start with replacing all taxation on income and services with a charge on the use of land and natural resources, as is done in Denmark and some other countries.
This would encourage land to be used for purposeful activities, and limit the ability of landowners to reap its appreciation in value from tenants’ activity and from improvement to infrastructure built around it at public expense.
An across-the-board charge on land, based on its value, would raise more public revenue than all the present badly-targeted unfair taxes. Sale of public assets would be unnecessary.
Selling protected open spaces for unplanned speculative gain isn’t in the public interest. Pat Toms, Flat 1/2, 68 Shakespeare Street, Glasgow.