HAPPY New Year to Glaswegians everywhere.

You know, it is in the very bones of Glaswegians to be optimistic and cheerful about the year ahead, it’s built into us – we can’t stop ourselves, and that’s even when we face another year of being led by an out of ideas, out of luck and out of time SNP/Green administration in Edinburgh.

More particularly, as a city we face another year of an SNP (enabled by the Greens) led council which at best is tin eared to the problems facing our city and perhaps, more accurately, just plain ill equipped in the competency department to stop itself doing more harm than good.

Since being elected as a councillor, I have realised that you tend to look at things with a different set of eyes than you did as a punter strolling through the streets of Glasgow either shopping, sightseeing or simply having a drink with friends.

I’m sure those of you visiting the city centre (a decreasing number) will have been as concerned as I have been seeing huge unemptied dumpsters and black bin bags often torn apart by birds or rodents, strewn across our proud city streets, boarded up shops, graffiti covered hoardings and a general weariness and lack of care and maintenance. These are the sights that meet the eyes of locals and visitors alike when they come to the city centre; and that’s before they even get anywhere near talking about Sauchiehall Street!

Recently, and certainly over the festive period, I became increasingly aware of how quiet (relatively speaking) our city centre hospitality venues were in the weeks leading up to Christmas. While we would expect Monday through to Wednesday to be relatively quiet, December should be a thriving time for pubs and restaurants as works nights out take place, irrespective of the day of the week.

While attending a musical gig in Merchant City in the fortnight before Christmas, I was struck by the fact that not only was the venue not filled to capacity (whereas similar events out of Glasgow city centre were) but more worryingly, Merchant City itself at about 9.30pm was like a ghost town. Most eateries, pubs and clubs, which to my own knowledge should’ve been chokka at this time of year, were quiet.

This situation has been repeated across our city centre this year with the Night Time Industries Association warning of hard times ahead for the trade. The weeks leading up to Christmas is the bankable period for the hospitality sector, ensuring a financial cushion for the leaner January month ahead. Not this year. Not last year either, funnily enough…

As part of my role, I speak to representatives of the night time industry and listen to their worries and concerns (it’s the right thing to do – SNP council leader Susan Aitken should try it). They are aware that the cost-of-living pressures are affecting the ability of people to socialise more, even at Christmas.

But they are also aware of how the SNP/Greens in government in Scotland as well as locally are not at all supportive and in fact are pursuing policies which add to their troubles.

Whether it’s hitting hardworking Scots with increased tax bills (while conversely the UK Government cuts National Insurance), not matching rates support for businesses as in England or removing, potentially, hundreds of cabs from our city centre due to an ill-thought-out Low Emission Zone. The SNP/Greens are effectively kicking the city centre economy while it’s on the floor.

It is the absolute duty of government local or national to provide the right environment for business and, by dint of that, the city’s people to thrive. Not in SNP/Green Glasgow though.

The evidence of that is in front of their very eyes…