ARMS fairs are to be banned from Glasgow council-controlled venues in future in the wake of a row over the hosting of an event dubbed a "Trident showcase" at the Scottish Event Campus.

That's the view of Glasgow Life chairman David McDonald and has come as peace campaigners protested at the start of the three-day Undersea Defence Techology conference at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) which will discuss new subsea weaponry and technology.

Last week, the People Make Glasgow branding overseen by the convention team for Glasgow City Council arm's length organisation Glasgow Life was removed from promotional material for the fair in the wake of the row.

There had been concern that Glasgow City Council sanctioned the event at a venue which is run by a company that is 91% owned by the local authority.


But Mr McDonald, the deputy council leader having been reluctant to rule out hosting arms fairs in the future has now stated they will not be allowed in future.

There was applause as he told councillors: "We must ensure that we protect our conference and conventions business in what is a hugely competitive global market but we will be doing that from now on in a way that reflects our values. is right to say that this event was not an event that we could stop for a whole host of reasons but with a new policy and with a new political commitment in place, you can be sure that this won't be the kind of event that comes to Glasgow in the future."

A Glasgow City Council source said, however, that it could not be considered policy yet as it has not gone before any kind of committee for a decision or approval.

It is only accepted that Mr McDonald's comment gives an indication of how he expects things to develop.

A spokesman said:"It hasn't gone before members of the Glasgow Life board, so it can't be official council policy."

It can be the member’s position and that of his colleagues, however.

The event was attended by dozens of firms from around the world to promote defence and security equipment.

BAE Systems and Babcock International, which are designing and constructing a new fleet of Trident nuclear submarines, are lead sponsors of the fair.

Protests at the Glasgow arms fair

There was further concern that the Glasgow Life-managed Kelvingrove Art Museum played host to around 250 attendees of the UDT exhibition for a networking banquet.

Mr McDonald made clear the position after appearing initially cagey about what the response would be to the concern over the arms fair.

He earlier told fellow councillors he had asked the Conventions Bureaux "We have listened to the concerns and asked the conventions bureaux to re-examine its guidelines for the provision of any future support associated with winning conference business for the city.

"Traditionally that criteria has been in keeping with the main economic drivers of both local and national government.

"But in addition to those financial and economic criteria we are asking the conventions bureau to ensure an updated policy that recognises Glasgow's principle position as a human rights respecting city that matches the values and vision set out in our city charter."


Allan Young, a Scottish Green Party councillor asked if it could be taken as read that there will be no more arms fairs and that the private hiring of Kelvingrove for "celebrators dinners for war profiteers" would not be happening again.

Mr McDonald added: " We are looking to get to a position that respects all positions and we have made a commitment to go further than the city has in the past.

"I am happy, like I have said, for members to put forward their own ideas and suggestions. What we can't do is stop conference or event organisers contracting with host venues or accommodation providers because that is simply not in our gift.

"What we can do is have a policy that matches the city's characteristics that's something I have committed to in the past and we commit to today."

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said in response to Mr McDonald's statement: “Officers have been asked to start work on a formal policy on support for conventions.”

The city council had initially defended the UDT event saying it was held in Glasgow in 2008 and had stressed conferences and exhibitions are worth £130 million to the local economy each year.

UDT, now in its 31st year, had been sold in promotional material as a forum to allow businesses to "engage with the undersea defence community, network and meet prospective customers, showcase your products and services and reinforce your commitment to this ever-evolving domain".


The promoters said it provides arms companies with the chance to "meet face-to-face" with over 1,400 international, senior military and industry leaders".

Organisers Clarion Events, has hosted family-friendly gatherings such as the Baby Show, the Horse Show and the Spirit of Christmas. Since 2008, it has acquired six arms fairs and joined the arms industry trade body ADS.

Last month, Mr McDonald, when asked if it was appropriate to support the arms fair, said: "Regardless of our membership of the NFLA (Nuclear Free Local Authorities) the city currently has no policy framework in place that relates to the type of events that we may or may not wish to hold. This is something that I will be taking forward in the coming weeks to rectify."

But when asked if he would commit to withdraw council or civic support for the event for this year and future years and to set up an ethical events policy, he added: "I don't think anyone in this chamber is prepared to... risk the city's reputation in any way, whether it is in standing against nuclear weapons as we have done, or [through] the work that the conventions bureau has undertaken over many years to bring conferences and events to this city.

"That's over £1bn worth of business that has come to Glasgow that supports jobs in our hotels sector, in our restaurants, in shops, in bars. It is jobs that support Glaswegians.

"I don't want to take any decision today that undermines those jobs or the city's future prosperity."