FIRST of all, I would like to offer my thanks to everyone who voted in the recent local elections.

Democracy is the greatest tool we have for change and for positive impact on our lives and communities, our city and, indeed, our world.

Local government may not get the attention of the Scottish or UK Parliaments yet it delivers many of those vital frontline services and policies which are closest to our everyday lives and we cherish most.

From education and ensuring children and young people have the best starts in life through to attracting jobs and investment, responding to the climate emergency, cleansing and ensuring citizens have access to world-class parks and greenspaces, councils have huge responsibilities. It’s crucial therefore that as many of our citizens as possible are engaged with the local democratic process and have their say. All of us who are involved in politics have a duty to promote that.

Of course, I would like to thank all those Glaswegians who gave their vote to the SNP. You returned us again as the largest party in the city and after the unprecedented challenges of the last couple of years have placed your trust in us. Each of the 37 SNP councillors elected appreciates the responsibilities placed upon them as representatives of their communities and of this great city.

In recent days, the SNP and Scottish Greens represented on the City Council have held a series of very positive and mature discussions about what is best for Glasgow and its citizens. Those discussions have concluded with us reaching a working agreement to enable the formation of a new Council administration.

The SNP-Green agreement commits both our groups to co-operating to make sure we do all we can to deliver on our shared and progressive priorities, bringing a freshness of approach and purpose to local politics in Glasgow.

We mustn’t underestimate the huge challenges Glaswegians face in the years ahead, from the daily impact of the cost-of-living crisis on incomes and the longer-term effect of the pandemic on communities through to ensuring a fair and just transition delivers for all Glaswegians and that our city is climate-ready. This is a massive five years for the future of our city and the well-being of its people.

It’s clear that the SNP and Greens have much common ground and have agreed on much in recent years on how best to meet the major challenges affecting Glaswegians. Our joint budget in February, for example, was the only one with genuinely committed action to address the cost-of-living crisis, which delivered a costed plan to enable Glasgow to properly recover from the pandemic, including the look and feel of our city, and which invested £1million in each of our communities.  

In this time of great uncertainty, we share a willingness to collaborate to take the bold, urgent and progressive action that the immediate and future needs of Glaswegians demands.

As part of the agreement, the SNP and Greens will tomorrow vote to support the formation of a minority SNP Council administration. Green councillors will take up a number of key positions, including the chair of a new Net Zero and Climate Progress Monitoring Committee.

It is however vital to stress that both groups will continue to exist and meet as distinctive and separate parties with their own internal procedures and appointments.

In the weeks and months ahead, a priority for the two groups will be to work together constructively to agree the five-year plan for the Council to take us up to 2027.

The Strategic Plan will bring together much from SNP and Green manifestos, as well as additional commitments from each group, and we hope to have this finalised and agreed by the end of the year.

This agreement is about doing politics and governance differently. But the outcome remains the same – a fairer, greener, more prosperous and more inclusive Glasgow.

Planning for the recovery of the city centre is underway


GLASGOW city centre is a national asset.

Home to around 170,000 jobs, it’s an internationally renowned location for business, retail, culture, hospitality and learning. A symbol of the changed city Glasgow has become in recent decades, it has helped define who and what we are as Glaswegians.

But like our peers across the world, the consequences of the massive growth of online retail and changing consumer habits have severely impacted parts of the city centre. Added to this, the look and feel of the city centre has suffered tremendously during the pandemic.

Much of the planning for the long-term recovery of the city centre is already underway. It’s hugely significant that two major developers are working towards what will amount to billions of pounds in investment transforming the area at the top of Buchanan Street and Argyle Street. This is a huge vote of confidence in Glasgow and our plans for the city centre.

And the revamp of George Square, the continuation of the Avenues projects and the rebuild of the Glasgow School of Art will all be crucial in the emergence of a different but world-class city centre in the years ahead.

But no one can deny there are interventions we need now. This is why SNP colleagues and I made the case to the Scottish Government for assistance to support short-to-medium term recovery.

The £2Million cash awarded in recent months will contribute to a raft of practical measures to revitalise the city centre, including expanding café culture, marketing campaigns, addressing the blight caused by vacant shop units and contributing to a deep clean of streets and public spaces.

Over the next few weeks, those short-term recovery measures will take fuller shape and be made public. A dedicated team of officers is already working on how we address issues such as the state of vacant premises on the city centre experience.

But we’re looking at the roll-out of new deep-clean teams and new bins which can compress litter and create more capacity. It will involve engaging with the owners of vacant units to see what more they can do to improve the look of their properties, particularly around graffiti. And it will involve working with other public agencies, including the police, to address concerns about anti-social behaviour generated by young people, particularly around Royal Exchange Square.

Glasgow is very much emerging from one of the most traumatic episodes of its modern history. We want our citizens, businesses, and visitors to see that recovery take shape on our streets.  In the months ahead we’ll take positive and significant steps forward to achieving that.