CITY centres everywhere are facing profound changes and Glasgow is no different.

The combined impact of the pandemic and Brexit has hit cities hard, while the urgent need to respond to the climate emergency and to changing patterns in the way people live and shop means that the Glasgow city centre of the future will not be the same as the one that many of us grew up with.

In the last few days, a new and potentially ground-breaking report has been published here in Scotland addressing these issues. Supported by business leaders in our three biggest cities and major legal and finance firms, Scotland’s Urban Age 2022 looks in detail not just at the challenges but also at potential solutions.

It makes clear the devastation of Covid, how it has “hollowed out” high streets, accelerated change and all but rules out a “return to normal” as we’ve known it. The report spells out the longer-term impact of increased working from home on footfall, the office property market, public transport, shopping and leisure. It also cites predictions of a further increase in online shopping of 40% and the likely knock-on effect in terms of the types of stores located in city centres.

One conclusion is that city centres need to carve out new purposes for themselves.

It makes recommendations for recovery, such as the need to significantly increase the populations living in city centres, something Glasgow is already progressing with. It also calls for new planning and financial tools that we’ll need for our city centre to recover, which Glasgow has been making the case for through our work with the Scottish Government on national and local city centre taskforces. There are no easy or quick-fix answers and action by all layers of government and through partnerships with business will be absolutely critical.

There’s much to build on, from the early work by major investors on transforming Argyle and Buchanan streets, the revamp of George Square and new figures showing Scotland outstripping Europe and the rest of the UK in attracting investment. In the meantime, Glasgow is getting on with improving the look and feel of our city centre.

In my last column I mentioned the £2m Scottish Government grant to aid our recovery, money we’ll spend on deep cleans, graffiti removal, new bins, and addressing the look of vacant sites.

That additional work gets under way in the coming weeks, making sure the city centre is a much more attractive space for businesses, tourists and ordinary Glaswegians.

But this isn’t something the city council and our partners can deliver alone. Like me, I’m sure many Glaswegians are sick to the back teeth of property owners who allow their vacant and derelict buildings and land to blight our streets.

There are complex economic and business reasons why plans for some sites haven’t progressed but that’s no excuse for leaving them as eyesores.

Property and landowners must step up to the plate and help improve the city centre experience – and we’re seeking new powers for the council to penalise them if they don’t.

Either progress your plans, open your buildings to temporary use or at least make them more attractive than the vacant shells they are, or let someone else do something with your site for the good of Glaswegians.

New powers for councils to repurpose buildings neglected or abandoned by their owners has to be one of the tools available to us to address this issue and assist in the recovery of Glasgow’s city centre.