A HIGH-PROFILE ethnic minority centre set up by the partner of an SNP MP is being shut down over unpaid debts of over £60,000.

The African Caribbean Centre will be evicted from its premises near Glasgow's Merchant City area following four years of wrangling with landlords, the council’s arms-length property firm.

The organisation has been served a notice of eviction which will take place on Friday. City Property, the building's owner, said the move follows legal action being twice previously suspended but that "repeated failures to pay and a reluctance to provide any evidence of a sustainable business plan" had resulted in the notice.

It is understood the arrears amount to around £63,000.

Graham Campbell, a former director of the African Caribbean Network (ACN), said a closure of the venue would "see hundreds of vulnerable African refugees, from Eritrea and Sudan in particular, lose their main place of self-help and community organisation".

Mr Campbell, the partner of Glasgow North East MP Anne McLaughlin, who was the centre's events coordinator until late 2013, also appealed to the council and City Property to reconsider the eviction to allow the centre's management to put a new business plan.

Documentation seen by The Herald states that the non or under payment of rent had been ongoing for a number of years, that formal ‘arrangements to pay’ had been agreed but not adhered to and that the last time any rent was paid was April 2015.

It also said ACN was benefitting from a concessionary rent but that under the terms of the council’s policy this would be reassessed to market levels, doubling the current fee.

A City Property spokesman said: "Over the past four years, City Property has extensively explored every avenue in an attempt to reach a suitable agreement with the African Caribbean Network.

"Unfortunately during this time repeated failures to pay and a reluctance to provide any evidence of a sustainable business plan has resulted in legal action being taken. This legal action has been suspended twice following offers to pay however debt levels have continued to increase. "Consequently City Property has no other option than to continue with the legal process which will ultimately result in the imminent eviction of this organisation."

Mr Campbell, who claimed he was unaware of the eviction until informed by The Herald, said some of its arrears stemmed from a three-year refurbishment of "what was once a leaking, derelict building".

Although rent had been reduced to £8000-per-annum on a monthly lease, down from £20,000, Mr Campbell said the deal did not give the centre any debt relief in lieu of investment.

He added: "The centre was never meant to be a purely commercial venture. It has always had a dual purpose as both a community centre and a cultural heritage centre. Glasgow City Council has never in fact grant-funded any of the running costs of this African community centre in the way it has done for other minority communities' social centres.

"I would be extraordinarily sad to see it go after all the personal sacrifices I and so many Africans and Scots have made to open it. Most of all the Centre has been a symbol of the multicultural future of Glasgow and of our community's own contribution to the ongoing regeneration of Glasgow."

Local councillor, the Greens' Nina Baker, who has been a vocal critic of City Property in the past, said: "I would like City Property to take into account socio-economic benefits but it is operating in a commercial environment.

"But at the end of the day if you can't make your system stand up it is not in your own interests to keep building up debts."