AS we now know, we’ll be taking a really significant step forward towards something we recognise as normal in the coming days.

People have been understandably frustrated that Glasgow has not been able to move forward in sync with most of the rest of Scotland. After over 14 months of living with often severe restrictions on our everyday freedoms, that’s entirely understandable.

Our economy, our communities and our citizens have all suffered but hopefully by the time you’re reading this we’ll be in the final days of Level 3.

A huge thank you must go out to all those involved in the vaccination programme in the city since the spike of the so-called Indian variant last month. My biggest thanks go to all of you who put in the extra effort and got us all to a much improved situation.

In the past week I’ve had a number of discussions with both Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, and the Deputy First Minister John Swinney about the additional support Glasgow requires above and beyond

what it receives in terms of Covid aid.

Following those talks we’ve secured an extra £769,000 to help our businesses through this latest phase.

I also spoke with Mr Swinney around how we address Covid in our cities and the need for urban pandemic policies and those conversations have also been very positive. I made clear that every time there is a spike it is in cities and large towns, as the largest, most dense and diverse population centres are hit first and hardest. We need targeted surge-testing and vaccinations – such as what we’ve seen in the city in the past couple of weeks. The response to further surges or variants emerging cannot be based around further restrictions.

As we progress from this latest crisis our messages are being listened to. Glasgow needs a special strategy and not simply just wrapped up in a blankety approach.

Where Glasgow benefits, the rest of Scotland benefits.

IN just over a week’s time, Glasgow co-hosts not only one of the world’s greatest sporting events, but also one where our national team will compete for the first time since last century.

Of course, the pandemic means Euro 2020 will not be the event we had hoped it could be, especially given it’s the Scotland men’s first appearance at a football final since 1998.

But it can still be a wonderful occasion for the city, for its residents and visiting fans and dignitaries. And it’s another great international showcasing of Glasgow to new audiences.

I’m positive we can host a safe and secure event, both at Hampden and at the fan zone on Glasgow Green. Strident measures have been taken to ensure the stadium and the fan zone are as regulated and monitored as they can be.

The Euros is also our opportunity to stage a major test event in our city, with thousands of fans a day visiting the fan zone. That’s a test event on a scale I’m unaware of elsewhere in the UK and one, I’m sure, will give us a really good indication of how sports and other major fan events can return to some sort of normality. With COP26 not far on the horizon, and with all partners planning for an in-person event, the experience over the 31 days will likely play a big part in our planning for November.

HUGE responsibilities come with Glasgow’s status as COP26 host.

We have a responsibility to visiting world leaders that we can deliver a safe and secure event, to other cities across the world that they are heard in these critical discussions, and to protesters that they can voice their concerns on the future of our planet.

As council leader my primary responsibility is to the people of Glasgow. Right throughout our engagement on the Road To COP, I have been clear that the impacts of climate change and the need for a truly just transition to carbon neutrality are as relevant to the lives and challenges of ordinary Glaswegians as they are anywhere. And I have been clear that COP26 will not simply happen to Glasgow but with us and for us.

I’m delighted therefore that formal engagement with our citizens on what their recommendations are for tackling the climate emergency in our home city will start this summer. This has to be a two-way conversation. If we are going to secure a just transition to a low carbon economy, people and communities need to be at the heart of what we do. And engagement is so critical to ensuring citizens share in tackling the climate emergency.

Our plan is that during August we’ll host a citizens’ assembly by recruiting a sample of ordinary Glaswegians to give us their views and help shape the legacy of our hosting of COP26. The citizens’ assembly will be organised by the leading market research company Ipsos MORI and meet over several sessions.

We want to know where our citizens feel that we can meaningfully work together to effect the change needed and, most importantly, their views on making sure that social justice and equity are embedded in all of this.

This is just one of the ways in which we are engaging with our people, having already carried out several consultations, including on our climate emergency implementation plan.

Global events don’t come much more significant than COP26. We’ve got to make sure that not only does Glasgow have a lasting legacy as host city, but our people have helped shape it.