AFTER the interruption of the General Election and the festive break, January has had a real sense of purpose here at the City Council. Committee after committee has had packed agendas delivering for Glasgow and its communities.

I’m particularly pleased to see the transformation of George Square take a significant step forward. And not before time. Our citizens will begin to see the emergence of a civic space this city deserves by the summer and a commitment to the delivery of a new square within the next few years.

After a couple of years of the necessary remedial work, it was great to join colleagues from the Scottish Government and the Wheatley Group to mark the commencement of the work to build more than 800 homes at Sighthill. This will be an entire new community right on the periphery of our city centre and on the banks of our other waterway, the Forth and Clyde Canal. It’s become something of a mantra for my administration but the North’s time has come.

And from our new policy on 20mph speed limits across our neighbourhoods, to the consultation on student housing developments, improvement of our major parks and long-term regeneration of our city centre, the commitment of the SNP administration to the betterment of the city is clear from the priorities emerging in our committees.

Two issues are worth exploring a little further. Glasgow’s 70,000 pre-1919 tenements are part of the fabric and heritage of this city. They are also home to hundreds of thousands of our citizens. But no-one needs reminding that many are in a state of disrepair, sometimes dangerously so. Addressing that is a key part of our Housing Strategy.

Last week we agreed a partnership with Govan Housing Association to begin addressing the state of our tenement stock.

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Our initial work will focus on 33 blocks and 295 tenements in the Ibrox and Cessnock areas, more than half of which are privately rented.

The plans also include a programme of preventative maintenance, tackling poor landlord services by acquiring more private properties and bringing empty homes and abandoned ground floor shops back into use for social housing.

The council is committed to using compulsory purchase orders to acquire some properties and transfer ownership to the local housing association, as well as bringing empty homes back into use.

We’ll continually assess the progress with our partners to learn the relevant lessons ahead of rolling out similar interventions across the whole of the city.

Given the condition of so many of these properties, our sustainability agenda and the need to make all our homes much more energy efficient, be in no doubt, our pre-1919 tenements will be a priority for this council in the years ahead.

Over the past two-and-a-half years the City Government has given considerable focus and attention to transport. The Connectivity Commission has given us a blueprint and I was delighted to detail the progress of our Glasgow Metro plans in my last column.

Pressing issues remain, though. We need to move our people around better, connecting them with jobs, education and social opportunities. And bus remains the most popular form of public transport in a city with the lowest car ownership in the UK.

Time and again we hear services aren’t good enough. The recent announcement by First Group that it was selling its bus operations provided an opportunity to explore whether we could operate one ourselves, given the recent legislative changes.

We conducted considerable preliminary work, however, First have now decided not to sell. That option is gone. Whilst the legislation permits us to operate our own buses, that’s very much the end of a statutory process and not the start of one. We cannot simply decide to have a council-owned bus firm. Instigating that process is also required for Glasgow to make sure it gets its share of the

£500 million the Scottish Government has set aside to improve the bus experience for our citizens. That is our first priority. If, in the immediate years ahead, the bus sector has been proven to fail our citizens, we would be expected to have the opportunity to again explore the option of a publicly owned bus operation.

In the months ahead, I will update Glasgow Times readers on the City Government’s ongoing work to improve the lives of our citizens and address the challenges our city faces. We won’t shirk from our responsibilities and commitments.