Charging 'non-Glaswegians' to visit the city's award-winning museums and galleries is back on the table as Scotland's largest local authority looks to raise more of its own revenue.

Ricky Bell, depute leader of Glasgow City Council, warned of worse times to come and said the local authority could not continue to "salami-slice" services.

He cited the example of Birmingham City Council, which has declared itself bankrupt after being hit with a £760million bill to settle equal pay claims.

The city treasurer said Glasgow was "nowhere near" this position - the council has already agreed a sale and leaseback deal of some museums and to fund its own equal pay bill - but said an increase in charges was preferable to cuts.

The council has already agreed to introduce a £3 entrance charge for the Kibble Palace in the Botanic Gardens.

Glasgow is one of the only cities in the world that offers free admission to most of its museums and galleries, including the Burrell Collection, which was named museum of the year by the Art Fund, the world's largest museum prize.

"We are massively proud of the fact that our museum service is free of charge but the council is under very significant financial pressures," said the depute leader.

"One of the very real challenges we have in Glasgow is that we are the only city that contributes significantly to the cultural offering of Scotland but get no funding.


"Edinburgh are funded by the Scottish Government for their cultural assets, Dundee have just got significant funding for the V&A which is great for Dundee but why not Glasgow?

READ MORE: 'A treasure trove': Glasgow museum named Art Fund museum of the year 

"My view is very clear. The Scottish Government is not going to be able to give us a lot of money, they just don't have the money themselves and we can't continue to salami-slice services.

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"I'm very keen and we are in discussions with the Scottish Government about giving us powers that we could raise our own revenue that's not entirely dependent on the government and charging for museums is something we need to consider.

"I don't believe there is ever a space in which we would charge Glaswegians for museum entrance but you do have to look at this."

The council carried out a fact-finding exercise a few years ago to look at how it could implement a charging mechanism for the city's cultural assets that excludes Glaswegians.

One option considered was a residents' card that could be swiped in a similar way to the city's sports centres.

"The challenge we have is how do you identify yourself as a Glaswegian?" said Councillor Bell.

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"What we were trying to do is something that is relatively straightforward and you would have turnstiles and be able to just tap your card.

"The problem was that the technology at that stage that was available was quite expensive. Putting that in and issuing everyone in Glasgow with a pass meant that the money we would generate would from non-Glaswegians wasn't worth [it]. It needs to stack up."

However, he said technology had moved on and the council needed to go back and re-visit the costs and look at the numbers going in and how many visitors you might lose if a charge is introduced. 

He said the city's museums and galleries got a "reasonable amount" from donations. The Banksy show generated £10,000 over its 10-week run.

"We have to assume that if we charge them, that donation would stop so again you are having to deduct those amounts of money from what you would make," said Councillor Bell.

"It fair to say that nothing is off the table.

"We have to get to a point where there isn't year-on-year budget cuts.

READ MORE: £69million Burrell collection pays off with 500,000 visitors 

"We've done all the easy things but the cuts that are going to have to made over the next few years are going to be really challenging for us as councillors."

Born and raised and Glasgow he said he was aware it was contentious to consider changing a policy that the city prides itself on.

"I remember as a wee boy, my granda on a Friday would take us to Kelvingrove. It was the highlight of the week for me.

"I really don't want to get to a situation where we charge Glaswegians. 

"If you put a charge on for tourists, you then get into the argument of who is a tourist. Are Scottish non-Glaswegians allowed in for free?"

Campaigners who oppose the decision to introduce a charge to enter the Kibble Palace have lodged a petition calling on the council to reverse the decision.

"I agree with the campaigners who say this isn't a great thing because it's not but I took the view and stand by it," said the depute leader.

"In an ideal world we wouldn't charge for any of them but we are not in an ideal world and we have to make difficult decisions.

"What we try to do is rather than cut services, can we maybe increase the charges here and there. 

"We took the decision to put the council tax up a bit because we thought better to try to bring in money than cut more services."

"The Kibble was one of those things where we thought, there is an opportunity to raise some money."