PRIDE GLASGOW ‘PROFOUNDLY SORRY’ FOR LETTING COMMUNITY DOWN

Pride Glasgow trustees have broken their silence over poor management and ticketing problems at this years Pride event in Kelvingrove Park, saying they are sorry and ‘promise to do better’.

In a statement released on social media, the charity confirm Festival Director and Deputy Chief Executive, Ross Stevenson, has left the organisation and over £6,500 in ticket sales have been refunded to customers.

Hundreds of people were delayed entry to the Pride festival on Saturday 14th July in blistering conditions and Pride later confirmed that around 600 tickets had been oversold due to a ticketing error. Security teams also dealt with over 80 breaches of the fences around the site, as frustrations grew in the crowds.

A petition calling for Pride Chief Executive, Alastair Smith, to resign had received over 1,500 signatures, with the new statement referring to ‘staffing changes’ being made at the charity in recent weeks.

Newly appointed Chair of the Pride Board, Chris Lang, said in a statement on behalf of the trustees:

“Glasgow – we let many of you down this year and we’re profoundly sorry.

We’re sorry for the ticketing problems which meant a significant number of you were delayed or unable to access the site in very hot conditions. We’re sorry to all those performers, hosts, stallholders, sponsors and guests for whom we didn’t live up to expectations. We’re sorry for the reputational damage done to the LGBT community in Glasgow and the Pride movement in Scotland by our actions.”

Pride confirmed that 664 ticket refund or exchange requests had been processed by the end of the 30-day refund period. Despite facing criticism for offering VIP tickets for 2019, nearly half the customers affected chose to take that option, with 278 VIP tickets reserved for next year.

Glasgow City Council have confirmed to Pink Saltire that licensing limits of 6,000 people attending each day were placed on the organisers this year following the move to Kelvingrove Park. A record breaking estimated 12,000 people took part in the Pride march through the city.

Pink Saltire understand there have been a number of internal governance changes around financial management and decision-making at the charity, as well as a chartered accountant being appointed to ensure Pride’s accounts are brought up to date urgently.

img_2180But one of Pride’s most vocal critics, Scott Agnew, who has said he won’t return as Host until there’s a new team at the helm, has said the Pride statement doesn’t go far enough. He told us:

“This is clearly a smoke and mirrors move from Pride Glasgow to give the appearance that things have changed.

This is merely a reshuffling of the pack of the same organising committee who oversold the event, endangered the LGBT+ community’s safety and failed to respond in a timely fashion to concerns and complaints and requests for refunds.

This is the same group of people who breached GDPR rules when attempting to arrange refunds and then have potentially breached Trading Standards rules by offering only half refunds or VIP tickets for an event they cannot guarantee will go ahead next year.

That Alastair Smith still sits on the board of trustees makes me think he is still calling the shots – who has appointed the newly created role of Chair? Who are the LGBT organisations they are consulting with? Who are this mysterious group of external advisers? As of yet I’m aware of no one being approached from within the community – I am however aware of thousands of people from the community contacting me over the last two months to talk of the defeating silence they have received from Pride Glasgow.

Glasgow’s LGBT community will not be fooled or hoodwinked or embarrassed again and I will be bringing all these concerns to the attention of the Leader of Glasgow City Council when I meet with her next month.”

Scott has written to Glasgow City Council urging them to step in to the row, with Cllr Jen Layden, equalities convener for the city telling the Evening Times “there is a clear consensus that we need a new approach to Pride in the city.”

You can read the full Pride Glasgow statement below:

An Open Letter to Glasgow’s LGBT+ Community

From the Trustees of Pride Glasgow

Glasgow – we let many of you down this year and we’re profoundly sorry.

We’re sorry for the ticketing problems which meant a significant number of you were delayed or unable to access the site in very hot conditions. We’re sorry to all those performers, hosts, stallholders, sponsors and guests for whom we didn’t live up to expectations. We’re sorry for the reputational damage done to the LGBT community in Glasgow and the Pride movement in Scotland by our actions.

We’ve been listening, reviewing, reflecting and taking action – we hear your concerns and want to provide an update.

Since 14th July our priority has been on resolving the ticket issues for those of you who experienced problems at Pride. The refund period was open for 30 days and we’ve responded to 664 requests, providing refunds totalling over £6,500 and accepting requests for 278 VIP tickets for 2019.

We also acknowledge the frustration and anger that many of you have expressed about the transparency of Pride Glasgow and have made a number of internal governance changes, staffing changes and have appointed a chartered accountant to help ensure we meet our obligations as a Scottish charity. Our accounts for the last financial year will be available shortly, published on our website and open to public scrutiny.

Our Festival Director and Deputy Chief Executive has now left the organisation and as Trustees, we will not hesitate in taking further action where an employee of Pride Glasgow, or any of its Trustees or volunteers, have acted in a way which is below the standards expected. We acknowledge that our small charity needs to have the very best LGBT activists and skilled people leading the organisation. We will therefore conduct recruitment for new Trustees over the coming months.

Although over 12,000 people took part in the biggest ever Pride march in Glasgow and thousands enjoyed the festival event and bandstand programme at Kelvingrove, we recognise for many it was not a positive Pride experience – we want to change that.

We are working with LGBT organisations in Scotland and other large Pride organisers, supported by the UK Pride Organisers Network, to take your feedback onboard and make changes for 2019. A development group of external advisers has been set-up and will meet for the first time in the next month.

We want a Pride event that Glasgow can be proud of – the biggest and best in Scotland. But most importantly, an event that reflects the ongoing fight for LGBT equality and one which respects the diversity that makes our community so strong. That’s why we’ll be holding a series of new engagement events throughout the year to make sure you have a chance to tell us what Pride means to you. After all, there is no Pride without a community.

Lastly, thank you to everyone who has sent their comments and feedback on the 2018 event and shared ideas on how we can improve for the years ahead. We appreciate your passion and dedication – we promise to do better.

Chris Lang

Newly appointed chairperson on behalf of Pride Glasgow Trustees

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