GLASGOW is the heart of the only genuine metropolis in these islands north of Manchester.

Our sheer scale, population size and the national importance of the Glasgow city region marks us out as a place of international significance and recognition.

Over recent years Glasgow, its neighbouring local authorities and partners across the public, private and academic sectors have worked across geographic and professional boundaries on issues from economic growth and the climate emergency to the health and well-being of almost two million citizens. Addressing those social and economic challenges which for too long have held our communities back has become all our priorities.

But for all that, there’s never been a proper recognition of Glasgow as a metropolitan region, despite being something we’ve been pushing for. That’s not simply about status, although like many Glaswegians I believe it’s a status we fully deserve, it’s about the powers and levers which come with that formal recognition which can ultimately create better jobs and better opportunities for all our people across the region. That’s the real prize here.

That ambition has now taken two major leaps forward. Just last week, the City Region (that’s Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde) took control from the Scottish Government of what is potentially the biggest regeneration project in Western Europe.

Clyde Mission will transform whole swathes of the riverside, attracting not only new business and investment opportunities and new homes, but better preparing the City Region for the impacts of climate change and new green economy. The £40 million provided by the Scottish Government to the authorities now charged with delivering the Clyde Mission will be crucial in advancing the plans. But what will be much more important is the levers which must come with that to meet our metropolitan potential.

And at the time of writing, the Scottish Government has announced it is further empowering Scotland’s regions including how best to deliver on our ambition for metropolitan status. That Programme for Government pledge is a huge step forward for the west of the country. It recognises how important we are to all of Scotland but also, that with the right powers, we can make much better inroads into challenges around growth, productivity and making sure as many of our citizens as possible have access to well-paid and secure jobs.

These steps are a testament to the really strong partnerships already delivering for our regional economy. Glasgow, for example, ranked as the top UK city for small businesses last year, the 13th most sustainable city in the world and the second greenest UK city to invest in. A recent report has also found that we’re the fourth biggest place for Foreign Direct Investment in the UK, and the second-best city in the UK for innovation. Those are solid and very positive building blocks.

At the same time, having made sure the UK and Scottish governments heard us loud and clear, we’ve secured more than £110m in the past year to attract even further investment and to grow those new and cutting-edge industries which are becoming increasingly important to our economy and international reputation.

These are outcomes from the sheer graft and persistence of the council and its partners, work they do day and daily in the toughest economic environment experienced for generations. It’s in marked contrast to those senior members of previous city and UK administrations still catching up on what Glasgow’s economy actually does these days and what it needs to do to continue growing and delivering. It’s really not enough for them to do little more than peddle myths and false comparisons with other cities while throwing in a few buzzwords they’ve heard but don’t understand. They’re not doing the basic homework on what’s actually happening in your own backyard. While our opponents continue to obsess about personalities and positions, we’re getting on with attracting historic investment and putting in place the things which actually help deliver prosperity, growth and fairness.

Don’t get me wrong. Glasgow will – and does – work with many cities across the UK for the benefit of all our citizens. The work we lead on with Bristol, for example, is crucial to how all UK cities plan for the net zero future. What Glasgow doesn’t need though is more denigration by local politicians so blinded by their need to trash and attack that they haven’t a clue what a growing and fair economy looks like, let alone deliver for one. Thankfully, there are many others who do.      


TOMORROW, the SNP will bring forward a motion to full council backing calls for the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use.

The war on drugs has clearly failed. It has failed those suffering from addiction, their families and the communities impacted by drugs. We cannot continue to treat a major public health crisis which costs hundreds of Glaswegians their lives every year as a matter of criminal justice.

The significant drop in drug-related deaths in the past year is, of course, to be hugely welcomed. But one death is one too many and Scotland needs bold and radical action to address a crisis which has burdened families and communities for far too long.

Earlier this summer the expert Global Commission on Drugs Policy invited Glasgow to help build a coalition for change. They did so because this city has continually made its commitment and willingness to seek solutions to this issue clear. And just last week, the Home Affairs Select Committee proposed a safe consumption facility in our city. Glasgow has had a collective voice on safe consumption which has allowed us to put forward a strong case, something I’ve no doubt the committee took on board.

What has been considerably less positive has been the interventions by some senior Labour figures, most notably Rachel Reeves who said she didn’t even think our drugs crisis should be a Scottish Government priority. Decriminalisation is evidence-based. It’s been adopted with considerable success by many international cities. And it could have a significant part to play in turning around the lives of many afflicted by addiction. I hope tomorrow all councillors have that same openness to tackling our drug death crisis as they have in the past.