Some years ago, the then Convener of Education and the Director of Education visited one of Glasgow’s secondary schools.

As part of their visit they did a question and answer session with a group of students on various aspects of education policy. Towards the end of the session one student asked the simple but obvious question, “what’s the difference between the Convener and the Director of Education.” The Convener pondered for a moment before replying, “about £100,000 a year.”

The Convener is, of course, an elected councillor while the Director is a professional senior manager. Were my witty former colleague to face the same question today his answer would be, “about £125,000 a year.”

All of which brings me to the thorny subject of councillors’ remuneration. I say thorny because I fully appreciate that popular opinion is that politicians are already overpaid and have access to vast expenses and gilt-edged pensions. Much of this is based on, not always entirely accurate, reports of what MPs and MSPs are paid. In truth, I suspect most Glaswegians do not know what sort of salary their local councillor gets. As of April this year, the basic salary for a councillor is £18,604. An MSP, for context, receives £64,470.

Way back in 2010, the independent Scottish Local Authorities Remuneration Committee produced its final report, final because the committee was then wound up by the Finance Secretary. The committee looked in depth at the responsibilities of councillors and the time dedicated to council activities by the average councillor. They also noted that the average councillor was 54 years old, white and male, a situation which has not much improved. They concluded that the level of remuneration was a barrier to recruiting and retaining younger councillors, particularly those trying to balance council duties with family responsibilities.

Among their recommendations, they concluded that being a backbench councillor, while not a full-time job, should attract a salary equivalent to 75% of the then median Scottish salary. This they calculated to be £18,916. If the same formula were applied to the current median salary (£31,605) that would be equal to £23,703.

Of the committee’s 28 recommendations, only one was accepted by the Scottish Government and councillors’ salaries were frozen. In the intervening years, we have received small uplifts in line with settlements for council staff but 10 years after the report we have still not reached the level recommended in 2011.

The next round of council elections will be held in May next year. I am already having conversations with colleagues about whether they intend to stand again. As has happened in the past, I know of several who have advised me that they simply cannot afford to continue. Juggling the demands of their day job, family responsibilities and council duties is no longer practical.

We also need to persuade dozens of new candidates to put themselves forward next May. The workload and financial realities are a real barrier for many who could be superb councillors, bringing a wealth of experience and talent to the City Chambers. All political parties face the same difficulties.

Glasgow City Council deserves good governance and that requires good and experienced councillors drawn from the full range of our citizens, not just old white men. The Scottish Local Authorities Remuneration Committee should be re-established and MSPs must commit to implementing its independent recommendations.

Everyone involved in local government knows that this is a problem which desperately needs resolved. Who will be brave enough to grasp the nettle?