GLASGOW is known globally for lots of things – beautiful buildings, football rivalry, world-class educational institutions and her welcoming and warming people.

That is why I have to say my mind was boggled when I heard about the latest suggestion from the SNP candidate for the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, Katy Louden, who suggested that there should be an introduction of congestion charges… just what?

The idea of introducing congestion charges in Glasgow is not only short-sighted, but it also reeks of disrespect for the city’s heritage, its current vibrancy and its potential. More than that, it places a financial burden on those who contribute daily to Glasgow’s lifeblood: its workers, its residents, and its visitors.

More than 50% of our workers come from neighbouring districts – are we seriously considering charging people to come to their work which add so much significance to our economy?

The SNP’s vision for our city seems misplaced. I

n a world where cities are striving to become more inclusive and inviting, the introduction of congestion charges seems like a regressive step. Instead of welcoming people with open arms, we’re asking them to empty their pockets.

But let’s delve deeper into the reasons why this proposal is problematic: 1. Economic Implications: Many businesses, already hit hard by the pandemic and the ensuing economic downturn, rely on the influx of shoppers and tourists. Charging these people to enter the city could discourage them from visiting Glasgow, further hampering the economic recovery of our beloved local businesses.

2. Lack of Alternatives: Before even considering congestion charges, have we sufficiently bolstered our public transport system? Do we have adequate park-and-ride facilities or a robust cycling infrastructure? Charging people without providing viable alternatives is a slap in the face.

3. Cultural Impact: Glasgow is a hub of culture, from its art galleries to its music venues. By potentially reducing the number of visitors with a congestion charge, we risk diminishing the vibrant cultural life that thrives in the city.

4. Dividing the City: Instead of uniting us, congestion charges could deepen the divide between those who can afford to pay and those who can’t. We should be working to bring people together, not segregate them based on their financial capacity.

It’s essential to ask – why Glasgow?

The proposal seems to hold a somewhat misguided view of our city. Glasgow is not just any urban centre; it’s a heartland of innovation, passion and resilience.

Proposals like these hint at an underlying disrespect for Glasgow, reducing it to a mere congestion statistic rather than recognising its unique spirit.

Yes, we must address the very real challenges of traffic and pollution in our city, but there are other, more thoughtful ways to tackle them. Congestion charges are a blunt instrument that may achieve short-term gains but could result in long-term pain for our businesses, culture and residents.

We should instead be investing more in our public transport infrastructure – a promise from the Scottish Parliament that we are also waiting to come to fruition.

We should be promoting green alternatives like cycling and walking and creating an urban environment that’s accessible to everyone.

We should have introduced a LEZ that meant that it wasn’t detrimental to our business communities and took our citizens with us, but in standard SNP style we have the bluster of ideas with no thought-out plan, design or execution, alienating our citizens and making it more and more difficult for everyday Glaswegians.

Glasgow’s charm has always been in its openness and warmth. Its welcoming nature has been the city’s signature for centuries.

We mustn’t tarnish that image now with ill-thought-out proposals that might deter the very people we want to attract.

It’s time for Glasgow to make a stand. Enough is enough from the SNP and this latest idea shows, yet again, how out of touch they are with our city.