A TENSE stand-off has developed after sheriff officers attempted to evict a high-profile ethnic minority group set up by the partner of an SNP MP from its Glasgow base.

Around about a dozen people have locked themselves into the African Caribbean Centre ahead of legal moves to shut the venue down over long0-term rent arrears.

The group, including Graham Campbell, the boyfriend and an employee of city MP Anne McLaughlin, have said they will remain in the city centre office until a resolution other than closure to the situation is found.

The group are in debt to Glasgow City Council spin-off firm City Property by around £63,000, with the eviction moves concluding around four years of wrangling.

Sheriff officers and representatives of City Property, another of the council's major Aleos City Building and locksmiths arrived at the Osborne Street property near the Merchant City around 10am.

Those inside have offered £10,000 to clear some of the arrears and said they had a fresh business plan to make the centre viable.

This was rejected by City Property following last-ditch talks between both parties.

Mr Campbell also said City Property's position did not take account of what he said were £100,000 of improvements to the building since the

African and Caribbean Network chairman Suleman Chebe said: "After making an offer of £10,000 immediate payment as was agreed at the emergency meeting last night.

"The debt is disputed and as much less than £60,000. We are frustrated that City Property still same the need to come this morning with Sheriff' officers and City Building locksmith to try to evict us without giving us reasonable time to pay. The sit-in will continue because we are here to stay."

Mulugata Asgedom, from the Eritrean community. said: "It is completely unfair of City Property to evict a centre that is a hub for a vulnerable refugees and destitute asylum seekers.

"We feel the landlord is disregarding the community need and is only interested in pursuing business and higher rents. Closure of this centre will have a very serious negative impact on many refugee communities who use the Centre for cultural and educational activities."

The Herald is awaiting comment from City Property but last night the firm's commercial manager told the group that only a sum of around half the arrears would keep it open.

In a letter to Mr Chebe, City Property's Richard Watson said: "As you have stated below, I have consistently advised you that at this stage the only consideration I will give to any alteration of the current legal process would be if a significant amount of the current debt could be settled.

"I have never indicated a financial figure, however I have stated that a sum in excess of half of the debt might be considered. I have advised you of the current debt levels, and you offer below does not, I am afraid come close to what I regard as significant.

"I also, as you know, have to consider the long term viability of your occupation of the Osborne Street property, hence the various requests over the years for your business plan.

"Given that ACN have had over four years to deliver a viable business model, which can support, at the very least their lease obligations, I remain of the firm opinion that yet another suspension of legal action will not change anything. I am sorry, but my previous concerns regarding the business plan remain."