ORGANISERS of a new LGBT+ event in Glasgow are stressing they have no connection with last year’s Pride Festival which ended in ticket chaos.

The LGBT Co-operative has announced its alternative Mardi Gla will go ahead as planned on July 20 after it was reported that the city council has refused to allow a Pride Festival linked to last year’s event to take place at the Riverside Museum.

Permission for Pride Glasgow to use the venue was withdrawn after it failed to keep up with a debt repayment plan it had agreed with the council.

Last year around 600 festival-goers were turned away from the annual celebration after too many tickets were sold. Hundreds of people were refused entrance to the festival site at Kelvingrove Park, including those who paid for premium VIP tickets.

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The outrage resulted in a major shake-up of Pride Glasgow with a restructuring of the board and leadership.

It also spurred on a group of activists to organise their own free Pride event called Mardi Gla.

Yesterday, LGBT Co-operative chair Will Labate said: “We hope that folks will be reassured to hear that we are a new group of professionals who have come together to run Mardi Gla. We start with a blank canvas and have no association with the previous operators of Pride events in Glasgow.

“The LGBT Co-operative is absolutely delighted at the level of support that we have been receiving from the community and the wider public as we have worked to bring people back together in the spirit of the Pride movement for Glasgow’s new Pride – Mardi Gla.”

Labate, who worked as a lawyer in New York before relocating to Glasgow, said it was an important year for the movement as it was the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprisings.

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“Right now we are stepping up our preparations along with Glasgow City Council to ensure that in this most important of years Glasgow has a Pride that everyone can be proud of,” he said.

“On July 20, Glasgow will be a sea of colour and vibrancy as people unite to remember the events from my other home city, New York, during the Stonewall uprisings 50 years ago. Those brave pioneers of LGBT rights were willing to put their own futures at risk to stand against such blatant discrimination.

“Later this month as part of my vacation I will attend a vigil at the Stonewall Inn, NYC, and I will take best wishes and admiration from people in Glasgow as we remember and recognise people such as Martha P Johnson and all those who launched such an important movement for equality.”

Pride Glasgow has insisted its event will still go ahead despite losing its planned venue. According to its latest accounts, the festival spent £52,233 more than it raised in the financial year ending September 2018.

Tickets for this year’s festival, due to be held on August 17 and 18 at the Riverside Museum, had been on sale for just over two weeks.

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The use of the local authority-owned building was dependent on organisers paying the venue hire upfront, and settling a debt with the council worth of tens of thousands of pounds. It was due to pay 50% of the cost of the Riverside hire by this week.

A spokesman for the council said that this had not happened.

He said: “The conditions agreed with organisers have not been met and we have now informed them that permission to use the venue will be withdrawn.”

Christopher Lang, the chair of Pride Glasgow, said the team was upset by the council’s “cut-throat” approach and that it was making plans to find a new venue.

“The withdrawal is due to the fact that Pride Glasgow has not been able to make the first instalment of the agreed repayment, plus 50% of the venue hire within the agreed timescale.

“Our board this year has been left with debts from the former board and the 2018 event, which of course is taking time to resolve. We’re trying to do the right thing, but it doesn’t feel like we’re being given a fair shot. 

“Despite the fact that we have sponsorship contracts and income from ticket sales, with proof of good cashflow for the event, the cut-throat way we feel we have been treated is upsetting.”

He insisted the event would go ahead in a different “non-council owned” venue “no matter who or what gets in our way”.