AS we take our first tentative steps out of lockdown, Glasgow can take pride in what we’ve achieved together.

Undoubtedly our sacrifices in recent months have saved the lives of many thousands of our fellow citizens. Now we must begin to pick up the pieces from lockdown; the severe damage to our city economy, the grief and isolation felt by many of our friends, neighbours and family members, and the hardship many in our communities have endured.

Nothing about the move from lockdown to ‘the new normal’ will be easy or straightforward. There will be many balances to be struck, one of which will be between protecting the wellbeing of the public and responding to the needs of businesses and employers. Competing demands and overlapping challenges will be constant on our road to recovery and we must always strive to find solutions which benefit the many.

I’ve written here before about how our use of public spaces will be critical to restoring public confidence, city vibrancy and economic prosperity. Our streets need to feel safer to encourage people to overcome their fears and apprehensions and return to them. And we also need to create spaces to queue for public transport, to access shops, to socialise and – eventually – to dine and to drink. And we need to create those spaces now.

Tomorrow, councillors will be asked to approve plans to get that work under way. We’ve received £3.5million from the Scottish Government to date to help deliver the Spaces For People programme and within the next few weeks Glaswegians can expect more measures to be in place to allow for social distancing. Our plans include widening pavements by removing on-street parking and closing off some whole streets so people can walk or cycle, and cafes, bars and restaurants can better utilise the space outside their premises and resume trading.

Our City Urbanist, Professor Brian Evans, is advising on how these measures can be as accessible and attractive as possible. But I believe we are also laying the foundations for Glasgow’s longer-term recovery and renewal, a healthier, more prosperous city where people have priority.

As more leisure and retail opportunities emerge as lockdown is gradually relaxed, many of us will choose to stay closer to home, so the conditions must be right to promote safety and business in our local town centres. Continuing public transport restrictions will also make it crucial that the bus sector, rail industry, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and the City Council collaborate to ensure that travel is not a barrier to recovery.

Glasgow’s cultural and hospitality offer and track record in staging major events, aspects of our economy which have become emblematic of our re-emergence as a truly international city, are under particular threat.

Combined with retail, hospitality, culture and tourism contribute almost £5billion to the city economy and supports over 185,000 jobs across the city region, many of them young workers who have been particularly badly hit by this crisis.

But its reliance on face-to-face engagement and people mingling at close quarters, means this vital sector faces particular challenges in adapting to the new normal. It is critical that we can provide tailored support to this and other particularly vulnerable businesses.

We’ve established a dedicated team of senior council staff, the City Services Team, to act as a single point of contact for businesses to help them navigate the challenges of planning, licensing, environmental health and traffic issues on their roadmap to reopening. We’ll streamline and decomplicate wherever we can, and also aim to provide support for innovative solutions that may emerge to bolster recovery. We want to get businesses up and running safely and effectively, get people safely back into the workplace and give residents the confidence to return to businesses that rely on their footfall.

That work on Glasgow’s recovery will be happening as we also strive to prevent a second wave of Covid-19. As has been said often in recent weeks, too many people have already lost their lives to this pandemic and we cannot risk another peak, however localised.

Another peak means more deaths but also another lockdown. Our economy needs all the support we can give – but it has to be done safely. Losing the right balance could set us back irreparably. Maintaining it will see Glasgow flourish again.

lMANY Glaswegians will, like me, have been horrified by the brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and share the feelings of grief and anger that are now pouring out on to the streets of cities across the US. No country or society is immune from the often deadly consequences of racism and discrimination and it’s only right that we in Scotland also take a stand to say that Black Lives Matter.

Many African American voices are pointing out that their experiences in modern America are just the latest chapter in a centuries-old story of racial injustice, with the thread of slavery running through it even to the present day. Glasgow, of course, had its part to play in that.

So much of our city’s historic wealth was based on the labour of enslaved people on the tobacco and sugar plantations of the US and the Caribbean and it lives with us still in the shape of some of our finest buildings and the names of our most famous streets. That’s why, last year, Glasgow City Council became the first in the UK to commission a major academic study into the city’s connections with the transatlantic slave trade.

When it reports it will give us recommendations for how the city should understand and acknowledge the continuing impact of our history. It is not only in the US that the legacy of slavery still affects the lives of modern citizens. If we are serious about demonstrating that Black Lives Matter in the present day, then we must also be prepared to honestly confront the legacy of our past.