Councillor Yvonne Kucuk (Calton Ward)
22 November 2015: Labour mired in ‘nepotism’ and ‘cronyism’ claims over Commonwealth Games legacy project run by Glasgow councillor Yvonne Kucuk
A £3.5 Million Commonwealth Games legacy project is embroiled in nepotism claims over a string of posts occupied by a local Labour councillor’s friends and family.
The project was overseen from the beginning by the People’s Development Trust (PDT), a charity that runs the Hub and which hired Kucuk as the £35,000-a-year regeneration manager. Another Labour councillor, Maureen Burke, also declares a paid job at the Trust.
Kucuk took up her post in 2011 and her cousin Alan Kennedy was appointed to the P.D.T. board in the same year. He left in July 2014 and his son Robert joined the board weeks later. Kucuk’s husband is also working at the Hub.
One of her local political allies, David Stewart, joined the board in 2011 as an 18-year-old before leaving last year. He describes himself on social media as a “founding director” of the PDT and has blogged on how he helped campaign for McAveety and his local councillors “I was actively involved in canvassing for my then local MSP Frank McAveety in the 2011 election and then again for my local Labour councillors in the local government elections of 2012.”
George Redmond, the only other Labour councillor who represents the Calton ward, was also on the PDT board for a spell. His cousin William Faulds has a job at the Hub and Kenneth Edward Faulds – the son of another of Redmond’s cousins – was briefly a PDT board member. Redmond said: “The entire Redmond family, inspired by the example and commitment of my late parents, have been active in community work in Bridgeton – Dalmarnock my entire life.”
Yvonne Kucuk George Redmond (Centre)
* Malfeasance In Public Office At Glasgow City Council: The Case For A Public Inquiry. a dossier of available evidence compiled by the 100 Promises Community Campaign. George Redmond – Profile of a councillor.
Information we have gathered from an academics private investigations shows Councillor George Redmond owns 33 houses. The vast majority of landlords within Glasgow according to the Council’s own figures on the private rented sector own a handful of properties.
Of the 36,000 or so private rented properties there are only a handful of landlords with several dozens of properties available for rent.
We are unaware of whether Councillor Redmond rents out the majority of his own homes, but we know that most were acquired through right to buy arrangements and then sold to him.
His private residence has been valued at £430,000. Councillor George Redmond is a wealthy man. His career began in politics, and all of his private commercial appointments were preceded by his election as a Councillor.
Most of his commercial appointments concern his long term interest in regeneration, land and the housing market, and there is a strong cross over between his leadership in these fields and his role as a senior Councillor, and so it could well be said that his considerable personal wealth owes much to his public tenure.
That he has been able to leverage such considerable personal wealth from his public tenure is clearly not illegal, but it is also clearly not at the behest of his constituents.
His control of a housing association and a credit union, alongside his ownership of capital, and strategic involvement in regeneration also speak to a man who has very considerable commercial and public power, particularly in and around his constituency.
That his actions have frequently been instrumental in a range of the submissions of malfeasance to this dossier are why we have chosen to single him out and highlight his personal wealth and investments.
Yvonne Kucuk (Centre)
A complaint has been made to the council about the P.D.T.’s governance. The recruitment process that led to Kucuk’s appointment in 2011 was carried out by the Glasgow East Regeneration Agency (G.E.R.A.), a charity set up to tackle poverty.
In 2012, it was reported that outgoing G.E.R.A. chief executive Ronnie Saez had been given a golden goodbye worth £500,000 by Labour councillors.
A charity watchdog ruled that part of the pay-off agreed by G.E.R.A. amounted to “misconduct”.
David Meikle, a Tory councillor in the city, said “The Dalmarnock Legacy Hub was about regenerating the East End and helping local people – not employment opportunities for Labour councillors’ relatives.
It smacks of utter cronyism and nepotism. We need to see evidence of the PDT’s recruitment process for board members and employees. I think the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator may need to look into this.”
The opening of the Legacy Hub in Dalmarnock Councillor Kucuk second from right
29 November 2015: Glasgow Labour councillor in ‘nepotism’ row abandons Holyrood bid
A Labour councillor embroiled in a nepotism row has pulled out of the race to become a party candidate for Holyrood. Yvonne Kucuk, who has faced scrutiny over the number of relatives linked to a community centre she helps run, has not applied to be on the Glasgow Shettleston shortlist.
Kucuk, who represents the Calton ward on Glasgow city council, had been the favourite in the internal contest after Frank McAveety relinquished the candidacy due to becoming council leader again. However, senior party figures were said to be unenthusiastic about her winning the selection and re-opened the applications process.
Scottish Labour headquarters stated that the original shortlist did not “reflect the aspirations” of the party in respect of diversity. Kucuk was then at the centre of a storm over a Commonwealth Games legacy project she helped deliver in the Dalmarnock area of Glasgow.
SNP MSP John Mason said: “I’m not surprised. If Labour are now being more careful about who they select as candidates, I would welcome that.”
25 February 2016: International firm of auditors to investigate a Commonwealth Games legacy project managed by a Labour councillor in Glasgow.
The Big Lottery Fund (B.L.F.) called in outside help after reviewing how its £1.3m award for the multi-purpose Dalmarnock ‘Hub’ had been spent.
The project has been overseen by a charity – the People’s Development Trust – and a key staff member is Calton councillor Yvonne Kucuk, who was appointed as the P.D.T.’s £35,000 a year “regeneration manager”.
The Legacy Hub, located in the shadows of the Emirates arena in the east end, benefited from £3m from the Scottish Government and £1,295,000 from the B.L.F., while Glasgow city council sold land to the Trust for £1. Around £840,000 of the award was to part-fund the Hub’s construction and £455,000 was for four years’ operating costs.
However, the flagship scheme has been marred by splits. Board members, Reverend Alison Davidge, Nancy Clunie and Daniel Bradley quit their posts and a fourth individual quit as directors. The B.L.F. was notified about the departures by the individuals afore-named…
The quango subsequently launched a review to examine whether its funding had been used in line with its grant agreement. The probe escalated after the B.L.F.’s internal audit department contracted Mazars, one of Europe’s largest accounting firms, to carry out checks.
A B.L.F. spokesman said: “It’s a term and condition of our grant that we know our funds are being spent appropriately and in line with our agreement. With this in mind our internal audit department has appointed Mazars, an independent organisation who will begin their assessment mid next week with a view to report back to us in approximately a month’s time.”
Local SNP MSP John Mason said: “There is a general concern that Labour treats Glasgow as its personal fiefdom, where friends get positions and jobs and not in a transparent way. “It is the councillor’s dual role in this project that is concerning.
You should be a local councillor, or part of the development project. Or, you should have the development role and not be the local councillor. A sensible person would surely conclude that you cannot do both roles. It is about public perception.