CAMPAIGNING works – that’s what the past two weeks have shown.

We’ve seen a ban on winter evictions secured at the Scottish Parliament by Green MSP Andy Wightman and pressure from Living Rent and other housing activists. Then in Glasgow, where the average private rent of a two bed flat has soared 41% in a decade from around £550 to £800 per month, this week Greens led the Council to declare a rent crisis.

We’ve agreed that the current rent control legislation is unworkable, and we’ll set up a tenant-led commission to find solutions that will work.

Meanwhile, Greens have also been campaigning since the spring for the re-opening of our beloved libraries, community centres, gyms and swimming pools. There have been incredible community campaigns like the weekly ‘read-ins’ outside Pollokshields Library, where local residents put out banners, and when they were taken down came back with even more creative protest methods.

These spaces are vital for the health and wellbeing of our communities. Glasgow Life, the charity which runs them on behalf of the council, has been hit very hard by loss of earnings in the pandemic. And yet the Scottish Govern-ment has been a lot slower to respond to this immediate community need than in bailing out big business. That can’t be the correct priority, and so of course people have been on the streets in socially-distant protests to demonstrate how much we love and need our community spaces.

This week Glasgow Life announced at last that 12 more libraries will open by the end of March, assuming restrictions allow. This is brilliant news for communities including in Dennistoun, where I represent, and it’s testament to the fighting spirit of local residents. There’s a lot still to do though – there remain no plans for any of the other centres, no timelines published for any venues, and no transparency over how prioritisation will take place.

Glasgow Life is separate from the council, and it’s a concern that major policy decisions are made behind closed doors with no opportunity for most elected representatives to take part or even be made aware of decisions. Announcements like the change of pricing for gym and swim in recent years or the libraries announcement this week, which go to the papers before Councillors are even informed, don’t give much confidence in Glasgow Life’s current intentions to engage with communities on their local venues.

Greens will continue to push for democratic accountability, but also for local residents to be fully involved and engaged in discussions of the future of these buildings in the wake of the pandemic and its financial consequences. Communities across Glasgow have made very clear, from Whitehill Pool to Govanhill Library to Penilee Community Centre that these spaces are vital, and that they are fully invested in seeing them open and thriving. So we must continue to campaign in council chambers and on the streets for the community voice to be at the heart of decisions. That’s how better decisions get made.