A CAMPAIGN has been launched calling for an end to a £500 fee for use of Three Queens Square in Clydebank.

Awestruck Academy, based on Sylvania Way South, were recently asked to fork out £500 by West Dunbartonshire Council after hosting a small group of youngsters on the square.

Now the creative arts hub has started a campaign requesting that the “disgraceful” fee be scrapped for community led cultural and educational events.

Joe Munn, from Awestruck Academy, told the Post the organisation refuses to be the council’s “cash cow”.

He said: “A few weeks ago, we had a small sponsored bike ride along the canal towpath with about 15 young people.

“We had a couple of tables outside of our premises afterwards, which leads onto the square, and the Sea Cadets came down to do some CPR demonstrations.

“The council asked us for £500 for an activity licence and we were absolutely gobsmacked.

“We challenged it and we were told they could charge us a one-off fee of £250.

“I think it’s disgraceful. Three Queens Square is a civic amenity and it belongs to the people of Clydebank and West Dunbartonshire.

“If commercial companies wanted to do something in the square for profit, I can see why the council would charge for the use of the facility, but not community organisations.

“We had two plastic tables out there and they wanted £500 from us.”

The Free the Square campaign is calling for free access to the square for community organisations.

Joe added: “It should be free to use for community organisations and freed from this ridiculous bureaucracy.

“The council seems to think that we are cash cows to be milked and we’re not willing to accept that.

“We run Awestruck Academy at great expense to ourselves and we have no funding.

“We weren’t eligible for any business support during Covid which makes it worse.

“At the moment Three Queens Square isn’t used for anything, you might get one or two events a year but nothing else.

“It’s Clydebank’s equivalent of George Square in Glasgow and it’s supposed to be the centre of the town, and they want to charge us £500 for putting a foot on it.”

A spokesperson for West Dunbartonshire Council said: “The council has a duty to ensure all events being held at our sites take place safely with appropriate protocols in place and as such it is necessary to regulate the use of these open spaces.

“This fee covers the administrative process of obtaining a licence for the event as well as conducting pre and post-event inspections which protect our residents and assets. All event applications are assessed on an individual basis.”