The answer to almost every problem thrown up by the slow return to normal seems to be digital.

How do we keep in contact with people who we are not yet allowed to meet up with? By digital meeting.

The zoom quiz is now a phenomenon. For office workers the zoomference is a daily occurrence as face to face meetings are not yet allowed.

And as the hospitality trade is preparing to get up and running people are being urged to order drinks and food while using an app.

That might be ok for a fish and chips and a pint in a big impersonal establishment like you get in an airport, (the only time I’ve ordered a drink on an app) but it’s not going to cut it in your local pub when the bar staff are all part of the whole pub package.

The drive to digital can make life easier for many of us in many ways but it can leave many others excluded.

The elderly pensioner who does not have, has never had and will never have, a computer or broadband connection.

The person who pays their bills at the Post Office or bank branch, that has not yet fallen victim of “restructuring”, because that’s the method they trust.

Someone with no smart phone who just wants to go for a pint.

And for others it is the cause of worsening poverty and exclusion.

This has long been a problem.

A report this week highlighted again the serious implications of digital exclusion.

The Joseph Rowntree report into Universal Credit in Glasgow showed many people are unable to claim for universal credit on line for mainly two reasons.

The first is they don’t have a computer or a mobile phone with which they can access the internet.

Contrary to what we are led to believe not every single person has a smartphone.

Secondly, even if they can get access to a device, they don’t have the necessary digital skills to use it and navigate their way through a long and complicated form that is hard enough on paper never mind on a screen.

There is also the issue of cost. Not everyone has it in their budget to buy a computer or afford a monthly contract for a new mobile phone.

The cost of the phone is only one aspect. If you don’t have wi-fi then you can’t use it.

Someone who has been working in a low paid job who has managed just fine without the latest i-phone or Galaxy, then finds in order to claim benefits that are worth around£75 a week has to first shell out a monthly outgoing just to have the means to apply.

It is fine migrating many services on to digital if it is more efficient but we must remember those who can’t or do not want to live their life where they are forced to pay for something they otherwise have no use for.

In the post lockdown world we need to ensure we are not creating more problems or making existing ones worse.

As we are encouraged to race ever further into a digital future we must look over our shoulders and ensure we are not leaving people trailing in our wake.

It will only lead to an exacerbation of loneliness, isolation and poverty.


We all need more space.

To prevent a second wave of coronavirus coming at us in the autumn, we need to continue with distancing measures that will stop it spreading at a rapid rate again.

We need more space on public transport. We need more space in the workplace and we need more space in schools.

We also need more space outside on the pavements and on the roads.

In the city centre, roads are being reconfigured to create wider pavements and to allow more space for cycling.

More people on bikes means more space on buses for those who can’t or don’t want to bike.

The plan is for an extra 25km, (that’s about 15miles in pounds, shillings and pence), for cycling as thousands more people enjoy the benefits of two wheeling around the city.

Early changes, like along Broomielaw and Clyde Street all the way from the squinty Bridge to Glasgow Green, have already seen a huge number use it.

However, it has also highlighted a problem with many cycle lanes in the city.

Many are painted lines and even the stepped second pavement style as seen on parts of the south city way no deterrent in this regard.

On all these routes, cyclists are met with obstructions as cars and vans are parked in the lanes.

The only ones that escape it are bus lanes with cameras installed to issue fines to the miscreant motorists.

This week on the Broomielaw, cyclist after cyclist was forced onto either the road, which is dangerous for them or onto the pavement which is dangerous for pedestrians to avoid a van which was left parked in the cycle lane.

It happens all over the city. So either we need enforcement or we need actual physical barriers to separate bike lanes from car lanes and they need to be joined up all over the city.

The safer the bike lanes are the more people will use them, the less pressure there is on public transport.

And can we make these, a present temporary, changes permanent, please.