AT the time of writing, I have just concluded a call with the UK managing director of Pladis, owners of the McVitie’s brand. 

I informed him that the City Council, trade unions, Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise will convene a task force to address the planned closure of the McVitie’s plant in Tollcross and that we have one clear focus – retaining the jobs. We are ready and willing to work together to help develop a counterproposal to the closure plans and secure the long-term future of the site and its workforce.

And I told him in no uncertain terms that his company has an obligation to its dedicated workers, to the community around Tollcross and, indeed, to the whole of the east end of Glasgow. Generations have given their loyalty and service to McVitie’s, working right through the pandemic. They deserve to have every effort made on their behalf. Pladis needs to go far and beyond the statutory consultation process. It must engage with the wider community about the devastation the departure of a key employer would have. 

The taskforce partners are speaking with one voice on this. For Pladis to simply shut up shop and walk away is entirely unacceptable. The company must engage and it must engage now. 

THE disgraceful and disgusting scenes witnessed in George Square at the weekend brought shame on our city. Glasgow has not had to endure such levels of violence, intimidation, drunkenness and vile religious bigotry in many years. 

Twice in as many months thousands of Rangers fans have ignored appeals not to gather at Ibrox or in the city centre. Gathering in public is reckless and unlawful just now, given we’re still in the grips of a pandemic.

But the scenes which unfolded on Saturday went far beyond that. Police Scotland said it was the worst violence in the city in 20 years, leaving a number of officers injured. I struggle to recall anything comparable in Glasgow’s recent history. 

Let’s be clear. Our whole city suffers from this. The morons we saw in our city centre may care nothing for the damage they have done to the reputation of their fellow supporters and to their club. But ordinary Glaswegians do care about our reputation and are frankly ashamed to share a city with them. Glasgow will not have its good name dragged back to the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s by the behaviours and prejudices of some football fans. This is not who we are.

Every person who encouraged those people to attend George Square, either openly or tacitly, and fed a sense of entitlement is morally culpable for this and may want to reflect on the impact this has had.

At the time of writing, the City Council is still assessing the cost of the damage to George Square and surrounding areas, as well as round about Ibrox. But this won’t include the cost to our city economy still struggling with the impact of Covid, with many shoppers and diners either forced to flee or too frightened to visit in the first place. Or to the many city centre residents who have had to endure wanton violence and destruction on their doorsteps yet again. 

I am however proud of the efforts of council staff who worked through the night to clear and clean the square and made it accessible and safe by morning. I thank them again for their efforts.

In the meantime, council officers will continue to work with Police Scotland and others across the city to ensure that those responsible are identified and brought to justice.

LIKE all of you, I was bitterly disappointed by the news last Friday that Glasgow was unable to move down to Level 2 restrictions with much of the rest of Scotland.

After so long it’s frustrating and saddening that we’re still unable to visit friends and family in their homes or invite them into ours. Across our city so many of us had been looking forward to the simple human comfort of hugging a loved one.

And of course, it was another cruel blow to our businesses and in particular our hospitality sector, which has borne the brunt of the impacts of the pandemic like few others. I have every sympathy with businesses gearing up for a massive stride on the road to recovery only for the impact of the virus to set our city back again.

I have already spoken with the Scottish Government about getting more appropriate levels of support to affected businesses for however long this will take.

The cruel reality is that Covid levels in Glasgow are again dangerously high, with weekly case rates now higher than 100 per 100,000 people and linked to the Indian variant. These are the crucial indicators when public health experts are advising what levels we should be placed within.

I said last week when the cluster of Covid outbreaks in the South Side emerged that it should be a warning to all Glaswegians that we’re not out of the woods yet and must avoid the temptation to stretch restrictions. Even then I was hopeful we had done enough to move to Level 2.

It’s now critical that the response of the authorities and each and every one of us is dedicated to regaining that momentum to bring virus levels down. Everyone has to play their part.

Testing and vaccinations are being accelerated for younger age groups in the most affected neighbourhoods and I would appeal to anyone who, for whatever reason, missed their first or second jags to make that appointment now. 

And I would urge everyone to get into the habit of regular testing, particularly as we’ll likely see other localised outbreaks in due course. I live close to one of the localised outbreaks on the South Side and I’ll be testing myself every two days.

For the sake of Glasgow and the well-being of our people, please stick to the rules, get tested regularly and let’s continue on our path to recovery.