Calls for probe into trust's links with councillor who groomed teens

The Brunswick Community Development Trust has dismissed the claims as 'spurious and vexatious'.

Calls for Glasgow Council probe into Brunswick trust’s links with convicted ex-councillor Mark Kerr iStock

A series of “concerning” allegations against a Glasgow trust, including supposed links to a former SNP councillor convicted of grooming six teenage boys, has sparked calls for a probe.

The Brunswick Community Development Trust wants to take over council-owned football pitches in Springburn Park, and has received thousands of pounds of council money to fund its work.

But Glasgow City Council has been urged to investigate the voluntary organisation, which works with disadvantaged communities, in a complaint, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), to chief executive Annemarie O’Donnell.

It alleges Mark Kerr, a former SNP councillor in North Lanarkshire who was recently convicted of grooming and abusing six teenage boys, was employed as a youth worker by the trust.

At the High Court in Paisley on December 2, he was sentenced to six years imprisonment and added to the Sex Offenders’ Register indefinitely.  

The jury found Kerr guilty of offences dating back to 2011 when he was a well-known activist in his North Lanarkshire community and working in a convenience store. 

He groped and harassed male youths over the course of the next nine years and was described by COPFS (Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service) prosecutors as “a predator hiding in plain sight”. 

The trust has dismissed the claims in the complaint as “spurious and vexatious”.

Concerns have been raised about the trust potentially taking over the football pitches in Springburn Park. The written complaint to the council also makes allegations that the trust has been “bullying” local residents and other groups.

A council spokeswoman said no decision has been made on the pitches.

Labour’s Paul Sweeney, an MSP for Glasgow, has backed calls for an investigation into the trust, and believes any potential takeover of council pitches should be paused.

“I was shocked and dismayed to read the complaint sent to Glasgow City Council regarding the future of the Springburn Park football complex,” he said.

“In light of these extremely serious and concerning allegations, it is only right that the process be paused until a full investigation has taken place and concluded.

“It is of the utmost importance that the local community in Springburn has full confidence in the process that has been followed and that these public assets are run in the interest of the community and wider public, not to further narrow vested interests.”

However, the trust said no complaint had been received at any point from Glasgow City Council relating to any of the matters raised. “It is not the organisation’s policy to comment on allegations of a spurious and vexatious nature,” it added.

Both the Brunswick trust and the Partick Thistle Charitable Trust have applied to manage the pitches and pavilion in Springburn Park.

The trust received £6,000 from the Springburn/Robroyston Area Partnership in November last year towards the development of a new local heritage trail for the use of the community, including primary school pupils. The Brunswick Centre, run by the trust, was awarded £5,000 in April last year for equipment for youth services in Springburn Park.

A council spokeswoman said: “We have had letters of complaint about the groups operating in Springburn Park which officers will respond to in due course.

“No decision has been taken on who will take over the running of the Springburn football pitches – we have received proposals which may form part of a future committee report for elected members to agree recommendations for the next stage of the People Make Glasgow Communities (PMGC) process.”

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