Glasgow’s new LGBT Pride festival awaits a final licence decision from the local council this week, as city planners consider their application for the Merchant City event this July.

Councillors on the Licensing Committee will meet at 9.30am on Wednesday to decide whether ‘MardiGla‘ will be given the green light, coming just a few days after a volunteer withdrew from what he has described as an “unprofessional” organising group.

Ryan McNaughton had been supporting the MardiGla organisers, the LGBT Co-op, with advice on health and safety and crowd control matters, but resigned citing serious concerns about the readiness of the group to safely organise an event of upto 10,000 participants.

Ryan raised his concerns about a lack of insurance for the event, and claims that a series of event planning failures led to his resignation from the organisation.

He alleges that concerns around crowd safety, such as the lack of toilet provision, lack of radio communications and an effective event control room, no confirmed fire fighting equipment and no confirmed stalls provider for organisations taking part, meant he decided to step down.

He has further alleged, in separate social media posts, that a collection tin for MardiGla in a scene venue may have been tampered with.

He wrote in a personal Facebook post recently:

“I have tried to bite my lip for as long as possible and I have tried to remain calm and try not to say too much through the whole process, but we are now at a stage where things will be rushed and things will be missed, people will be put at risk.”

“This is one of the most unprofessional levels of conduct I have seen from an event manager in the past [discussing the involvement of Executive Director]. We will now be delivering a much more scaled down version of the event we have advertised and promised the community of Glasgow, meaning we have FAILED!”

Ryan has also made allegations that financial transactions have been processed using a personal account of one of the LGBT Co-op’s directors.

Glasgow City Council have confirmed to Pink Saltire they are providing no financial assistance to the LGBT Co-op for the MardiGla event. A spokesperson added:

“Public safety is the number one priority and officers would not sign off on any site unless satisfied the required services and facilities were in place.”

The LGBT Co-op lost one its board directors earlier this month for health reasons, opening up a vacancy on its fledgling board.

The organisation also recently organised the first Proud Scotland Awards in a glitzy ceremony at the Hilton Hotel for 400 guests. Seats were priced between £80 and £100 each, with money raised paying for “core activities” and a small grants fund for other LGBT groups.

We’ve tried to contact the LGBT Co-op and Awards organisers to help publicise the amount raised for LGBT causes, but they have failed to provide any information since the inaugural event was held on 1st June.

Despite several attempts to contact both the LGBT Co-op’s Executive Director, Euan McLeod, and the Chairman, Will Labate, we have experienced a complete wall of silence from the organisation.

We have therefore, reluctantly, published below a number of questions we hope the LGBT Co-op can help provide answers to, offering the assurances some in the Glasgow LGBT community are seeking:

    – What was the sum raised at the recent Proud Scotland Awards for good causes?
    – What connection do LGBT Co-op have, through sharing logistical resources or otherwise, with Merchant City Festival organisers?
    – Has any Director ever used their personal account for any MardiGla or LGBT Co-op transactions?
    – Do the LGBT Co-op have their own business account?
    – How do LGBT Co-op react to the allegation of missing funds from a charity collection tin at a scene venue in Ryan McNaughton’s statement?
    – How do the LGBT Co-op react to the serious allegations of poor readiness and planning for the MardiGla event in Ryan McNaughton’s statement?
    – Finally, what assurances can LGBT Co-op offer the community in Glasgow that they’ll have a safe and enjoyable event on 20 & 21 July?

MardiGla is the newest Pride event to launch in Glasgow, following a difficult year for incumbent organisers at the long-running charity Pride Glasgow.

Despite their relaunch in recent weeks, organisers at the charity, which admits failings in its organising of the 2018 Pride event, announced it would no longer continue with a festival event this year, instead focussing on another Pride march and some fringe events throughout the city.

The city also has a third Pride event too, with Free Pride due to take place at the CCA Glasgow on 3rd August.

You can read Ryan McNaughton’s statement in full below with further information here:

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