During the pandemic one of the most regular enquiries in councillor’s inboxes has been when will our library, sports centre, golf club or community centre reopen? All of these facilities have one thing in common, they are run by Glasgow Life, the charity which provides the entire range of culture and leisure services for Glasgow City Council.

Glasgow Life operates 171 facilities across the city from the world renowned Kelvingrove Gallery to sports pitches and libraries in every community across Glasgow. Currently only 61 of these premises are open and even then are usually offering a much restricted service. The obvious question is, “when will the other 110 reopen?”

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the honest answer to that question is not anytime soon. Even when vaccines have been rolled out and we can all return to something resembling normality, the unpalatable truth is that a significant number of libraries or sports facilities will remain closed. We need to be honest with the people of Glasgow about that.

Glasgow boasts one of the finest civic collections of art and artefacts in the world. We spend proportionately more on culture and leisure than any other city in Scotland, outstripping Edinburgh where many of the museums are defined as national collections and funded directly by the government. We run 33 libraries, many of them originally endowed by Andrew Carnegie or local benefactors such as Isabella Elder. We run sports pitches such as Barlia in my own ward where current international footballers first kicked a ball. There are concert halls and community halls. Opportunities for every taste and every age.

The day we entered lockdown back in March, Glasgow Life immediately lost an income stream worth around £38m per year. In broad terms that represents about a third of its budget. Nobody in their right mind expects that income to suddenly bounce back once we have a vaccine. It may take several years and, in the meantime, the black hole in Glasgow Life finances from this year will have to be serviced.

For years, Glasgow Labour has been calling for fair financing from the Scottish government. We have consistently pleaded with them to recognise that we run international quality cultural and sporting services, core to Scotland’s reputation, with little or no additional funding or support. The best Commonwealth Games ever in 2014 would not have been possible without that solid base.

According to the Fraser of Allender Institute, the Scottish government is still sitting on some £1billion of unallocated monies passed on from Westminster to tackle the effects of the pandemic. On a population share, that’s well north of £100 million for Glasgow.

There have been far too many casualties of Covid-19. Many of us have lost friends, relatives and work colleagues. But there is more than just the human cost. Without full financial support, and soon, significant parts of Glasgow Life might never reopen.

Back in 1962, the economist JK Galbraith wrote to John F Kennedy reminding him that all too often “politics is not the art of the possible. It consists of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” Only help from the government can prevent Glasgow councillors facing that reality as we approach next year’s budget.

I would plead with every political party, indeed every citizen of Glasgow, to support our demands. Otherwise, many of the jewels from our crown may be lost. We must not let that happen!