Councillor Ruairi Kelly represents the North East and he has kindly agreed to write a regular column for the Glasgow Times about local issues affecting his constituents in the East End...

In 2017 I was privileged to be elected to represent Glasgow North East in the City’s East End as a first-time councillor in the first-ever SNP City Council.

Excitement was soon replaced by the immediate challenge and weight of responsibility that was apparent when right away we inherited a bill of over £500 million for the discrimination the Labour administration had carried out against female Council staff. Following that up with a global pandemic that has pushed services to the limit has made this first term, without doubt, the most challenging ever faced by a City Government in Glasgow.

You might think that this would be an excuse for not achieving goals that we all set out to achieve in our wards across the East End but in the past four and a half years I am really proud of what my colleagues and I have achieved, working with the best community organisations in the country to bring investment and improvements to our neighbourhoods.

No doubt there is a long way to go in some areas and I don’t think that communities should ever stop asking for more from their elected representatives but there have been some real successes to be celebrated.

A few that stand out for me include the amazing work being done at Stepford Football Centre, the creation of The Scottish Pantry Network, the Bailieston Sports Complex and the unbelievable work done across the whole East End during the pandemic.

Glasgow Times:

The Stepford Football Complex was an underused asset in the hands of Glasgow Life and finding funding to reopen it after a year of no income was a struggle.

Part of community empowerment is the ownership and stewardship of assets and when I reached out to FARE we were able to bring together a number of groups including Easterhouse Football Academy who were keen on bringing this facility back to life.

Within a matter of weeks, we had it back open and within months we had a long term lease in place that has enabled a huge amount of investment to be put into the football centre including relaying pitches and lighting upgrades.

This has been an amazing example of alternative models of ownership facilitating investment, creating jobs and ultimately creating a football centre of excellence in the East End. I have no doubt that in 10 years’ time we will be watching players on TV who have started off here.

The Scottish Pantry Network was created by my ward colleague, Cllr Mandy Morgan, and it now has 11 member pantries and over 7000 individual members across the West of Scotland.

Set up to tackle both food poverty and food waste the pantries ensure people can buy good food at vastly reduced prices and addresses ecological and climate concerns that wate and landfill contribute to. Other projects we are working on that will address these major issues include the development of an urban farm in Blackhill by St Pauls’ Youth Forum and the creation of allotments in Ruchazie with the local development trust Growing 21.

Bailie Ballantyne has been a woman on a mission and heaven help anyone that gets in her way. From day one she was determined to deliver a sports hub for the people of Baillieston and went through the books with a fine-tooth comb, finding millions in developers’ contributions owed that are now being used to deliver the hub. Ground will be breaking very soon at James Lindsay Park with the sports pitch as the first phase.

Working with all of the amazing organisations in the East End, and particularly the North East for me, has been the real highlight and I can’t thank them enough for the work they do day in and day out. I have been lucky to be able to build relationships with groups that has enabled better partnership working between the council and communities than ever before.

The next few months will bring a lot of shouting from people who had 40 years of uninterrupted power in Glasgow and the architects of austerity in Westminster.

The failure to create sustainable and resilient communities is theirs and their mistake was thinking that it could and should be done from the City Chambers. But local government isn’t about doing things to communities, it’s about building things with them and that’s what you will always get from your SNP councillors in the East End.