WITH the festive season upon us I can’t help but reflect on the commercialisation of Christmas and how this has now consumed our public spaces in Glasgow.

I don’t mind the Christmas market in St Enoch Square. Tasty street food and some interesting stalls but ultimately more for adults.

For me George Square was always for kids, young people, families, grandparents; yet can we say that now? Every year I would take my children ice skating in George Square. Bob skates for the wee man, proper skates for big sister.

After a few shaky moments it would take everyone about half an hour to get back into the swing of proper skating.

We’ve not had an ice rink in George Square for some years now and we’ve lost some of the magic and charm of the season. Has the heart of the city been over-commercialised? I seem to recall talk of a festive ice rink in the Merchant City, but it never materialised.

Many people cannot afford to spend lots of cash on fairground rides that last a couple of minutes. And to be fair the Irn-Bru Carnival at the SEC does that kind of fun much better.

For me George Square has lost its way.

Just like it did when it was painted red and became a giant canvas for chewing gum.

Congratulations to the local businesses in Shawlands who have paid for a free ice rink to open outside of Langside Halls from next Tuesday for a week.

READ MORE: Celtic star Scott Sinclair and actress Helen Flanagan take in Christmas markets

That’s a great exemplar on how we can use public spaces to make them accessible to everyone.

I think we need more transparency and an open discussion on how we use public spaces. For example, Bellahouston Park was turned into a muddy wasteland after the Summer Sessions in August earlier this year and has yet to fully recover. Metal fences closed off huge chunks of the park to replant the grass and you have to ask who pays for this and is it really worth it?

Where is our vision for public spaces being enjoyed by all people? This isn’t rocket science.

I remember a few years back being in Toulouse in the South of France and being amazed with their approach to the use of public spaces.

Now Toulouse – known as La Ville Rose (the Pink City after the colour of the pink bricks used in its many buildings) is a bit smaller than Glasgow population wise. It also sits on a beautiful river like Glasgow – the Garonne.

Every July to August, the City of Toulouse holds the “Toulouse Plages” from 9.30am until 9.30pm. This is essentially a massive series of free events for everyone across a huge park by the bank of the river.

Sports with equipment provided to rent free of charge. Rowing and kayaking. Free dance lessons, yoga, martial arts, tai-chi. From beginner level to expert. Lots of games for kids and families of all ages to take part in.

For me the city of Toulouse sets a shining example of how public spaces should be used for public good, where you don’t need to pay hand over first for a few minutes of fun.

Where the city doesn’t just rent out its precious community assets to private companies to make as much money as possible.

Glasgow has more parkland and community assets than most other cities on the planet.

There is no reason why we couldn’t be organising wonderful festivals for everyone in the summer, and indeed, in the winter too.

Events to be enjoyed by Glaswegians of all ages and communities without having to worry about prohibitive prices.

READ MORE: Baillieston community celebrate Christmas with lights switch-on

Events that could attract more tourists to Glasgow but not just for a few bands in the mud for the best part of £100. Tourists that would stay in the city for a week or more. Good for local businesses and this could help cross-subsidise inclusive festivals in the city for free. Where there’s a will there is a way.

We just need some fresh thinking. Innovation. Creativity.

The first step is to surely recognise that simply selling our public places for a few weeks to the highest bidders is a false economy. It’s the equivalent of munching a slice of cake. Very tasty but a satisfaction that quickly disappears and just leaves you with a few crumbs when all is said and done.

Let’s have a bit more strategy and vision for our public spaces in Glasgow.

Let’s bring back some magic that doesn’t cost you a tenner and isn’t just empty, hollow commercialisation.