BY MIKE COHEN
PLANS for an “amazing” state-of-the-art community hub look like being shelved . . . unless the whole Glasgow Jewish community gets involved.
Raymond Strang, who sits on the Community Trust, revealed to the Jewish Telegraph this week that he has headed groups for the last eight years looking at ways to future-proof the community.
“It became obvious that the way ahead was to look at the possibility of a community centre that would accommodate a shul, Maccabi, Jewish Care Scotland, a restaurant, function suite and meeting rooms,” Mr Strang said.
For the last two years, he has been working with representatives of Newton Mearns Synagogue, Jewish Care Scotland and Maccabi.
“Together, we worked with a developer to accommodate all our needs on one site, which would be funded by the sale of the vacated ones,” said Mr Strang, who is chairman of the Jewish Blind Society.
“The end result was amazing in that the developer came up with a building that was inviting, inspiring and would dramatically reduce ongoing running costs for all partners with shared resources.
“The downside was that there was a significant deficit and many in the group felt it was unaffordable.”
Mr Strang, a former chairman and life president of Giffnock Synagogue, is now worried that the plans will be “filed away in a drawer”.
“I have a difficulty with this decision and feel it is morally wrong and a lack of respect to our community that a few people should decide on something of this scale,” he added.
“I would like the Jewish community to be presented with the plans, to see the work that has been done over the last eight years and let them decide.
“If the community is behind the idea then the project will gain momentum and our chance of success will be higher”.
He added: “I don’t want to be held responsible for what could have been done. Let’s make this decision while it’s still in our hands.”
But Community Trust trustee Adam Lewis said: “First of all, Raymond Strang, although a member of the Community Trust, is not speaking on behalf of it.
“Chairman Malcolm Livingston and I have been chairing the group working to try and bring the project together.
“I do not recognise the point that he is trying to make. It is totally wrong of him to suggest that the plans will be ‘filed away in a drawer’.
“The Community Trust has been working tirelessly in an endeavour to move forward. Discussions have stalled because we have been unable to get complete agreement as to how matters should progress.
“Three of the four parties are in accord. The Community Trust will continue to work on it, but can only do so if we are able to get full co-operation from all the parties.
“Without everyone’s co-operation the project is not a viable one, which would be a terrible shame for the community.”
Glasgow Jewish Representative Council co-president Nicola Livingston told the Jewish Telegraph that the organisation is planning to “update and evaluate” its Community Futures Project from five years ago.
“This includes looking at community buildings, as well as the religious, cultural, educational and welfare needs of the community going forward,” she said.
“As part of this, we will be conducting a community consultation to give the whole community the chance to have their views heard — and plans for this are well advanced.
“However, funding is still required to do this in a professional manner.
“The Rep Council has not been invited to be part of the most recent discussions on the future of community buildings, but as the main representative body of the whole community, we are willing to take a leading role.”
* Additional reporting: Sharon Mail