NEXT week, Glasgow City Council sets its annual budget. Against a backdrop of the ongoing pandemic, it’s vital we protect the services communities rely on, the ones we need in place for a greener, fairer recovery.

Because of the delay to the Scottish Budget, there is still uncertainty about the choices we will face. As I write this, there’s still around an £8 million gap to close, and that means the council will have to find savings before it can even begin to think about reinvesting in services or crumbling infrastructure.

Despite huge sums won by the Greens in the last few years, the SNP continues to underfund local councils and centralise key decisions. 

For all that people associate local services with their council tax bills, it remains the case that only around 15p in every pound the council spends is raised locally through council tax. We have no control over the vast majority of our income, unlike most other European cities. 

So we all have to make choices about what to protect. I hope and expect that everyone will back the frontline services – the social carers, school staff and others – that have stepped up in the pandemic.

Scottish Greens will also look to support the city’s cleansing workers by increasing investment in vital neighbourhood work that’s needed to help people deal with their waste properly, as well as improving bin shelters, back courts and back lanes.

Our plans will also build on the £10m climate action fund we secured last year. We must go further to accelerate a green recovery in this COP26 year, when Glasgow has the chance to lead the world in the climate fight. And locally, as well as nationally, we are determined that extra funding must be allocated to tackling rising poverty.

It’s also essential that we ensure the reopening and long-term future of libraries, leisure centres and community facilities that have been forced to close by the pandemic. 

It’s well documented that Glasgow Life, which runs them, has a £20m black hole this year and faces an uncertain future.

We’ve led the fight for these vital venues. That Glasgow hadn’t closed a library before Covid owes hugely to the £50m for Glasgow that Green MSPs have won in recent budget deals.  

Of course, the virus has since dealt them a savage blow, but we’ve stood with campaigners throughout, and our pressure helped lead to lost income cash from the Scottish Government which meant Glasgow Life could announce another 12 library reopenings just before Christmas.

The choices we make now will determine what happens next. We’ll be fighting for Glasgow Life to keep its current funding. We want to guarantee more reopenings as soon as it’s safe. 

These local services are vital to our recovery and it’s right we should prioritise them right now, and for the long-term. 

The new drive to get local communities more involved in local venues is welcome – but it needs time and investment to succeed and that will be undermined by taking millions out of the budget now.

We need a budget for all of Glasgow’s communities, that’s what Scottish Greens will 
fight for.