IN unfinished business from last year, Glasgow currently has no Lord Provost.

Over the festive season the Depute Lord Provost stepped into the role vacated by Cllr Eva Bolander after she apologised for inappropriate expenses claims. With the next Full Council meeting in a fortnight’s time, as well as choosing a new Provost we should create a more open selection process, and bring in transparency and accountability for the offices of Provost, Depute and Bailie.

The Lord Provost role shouldn’t be about party point-scoring; we need a more thoughtful process for how the next one is chosen. It’s about representing all the citizens of Glasgow – an outward-facing role, an ambassador for our multicultural, unique city – it should be about more than a grey old man in a fancy necklace.

Shortly after the last local election in 2017, Councillors voted on the appointment of Lord Provost.

Parties put forward their candidate, a vote took place, the majority won. However, with half of Councillors being brand new to the role, most of the chamber had little idea about any of the people we were voting for. We’d never met them. There were no speeches, no chance for questions, and scant ability to vote outwith whipped party lines. Bailies, a ceremonial role bestowed at the suggestion of each political group and approved by Full Council, likewise have no chance to indicate why they feel they would be well-suited to the role.

This time, we should have a free vote by secret ballot. As many candidates as wish to should stand, which would encourage competition within as well as between parties, and candidates should be invited to make their case.

There should also be a mechanism designed to build consensus – if a candidate doesn’t have enough support across parties then they shouldn’t get on the ballot paper to begin with.

There must also be ongoing accountability. There is a budget for reasonable expenses including for a working wardrobe, which covers not just the Lord and Depute Provosts with their increased salaries, but also Bailies who do not receive any extra pay for representing the city.

It’s right that costs should be covered – income should never prevent candidates from coming forward – but Councillors must now gain oversight of this process.

There should be agreed parameters for spending, and annual reporting of this spend. Without rehashing the debate around it, the nature of the last Lord Provost’s exit – a decision made within the SNP group – betrayed a sense that the role was politically accountable, rather than accountable to the whole council or the city as a whole. That needs to change.

Glasgow’s team of Provosts and Bailies works extremely hard with a packed schedule of engagements, meeting, greeting and hosting both citizens and guests of the city.

The events of the autumn mean that some trust has been lost – more transparency and accountability would be a way to rebuild that trust on the way to a fresh start.