A year ago the people of Glasgow voted for the biggest change in local government this city has experienced in generations. They voted not only for a change in personnel and party, but for how we do politics, in where priorities lie, in how we do relationships with citizens and partners.
They voted for real change. Running a city of Glasgow’s scale, with its ambitions, profile and opportunities but also its challenges, is a huge honour.
But in the past it has overwhelmed some. The new SNP City Government avoided this by spending years listening to the electorate, developing our policies and plans, and putting the best team in place so we could hit the ground running.
Glasgow’s communities have seen opportunities to make a difference to their lives squandered too many times in the past, their hopes and ambitions a poor second to cliques, power struggles and agendas far removed from their daily experience.
We would not make that mistake. So, as we continue to lay the foundations for a better Glasgow, to use the levers we have to allow our city to thrive, a year on from our election victory provides an opportunity to recap on some areas where the City Government continues to make progress.
Economic growth is pivotal and, with Brexit fast approaching, will be a constant challenge.
🏠 Tackling rip-off rents— The SNP (@theSNP) May 6, 2018
🏠 Action on rogue landlords and letting agents
🏠 50,000 homes for social rent delivered
Here's how we're ensuring everyone has access to a home of their own. pic.twitter.com/MblLuxb1n4
We have established a high-level group of partners to grow the city’s economy and prosperity in an inclusive way, increase productivity, grow our local skills base in key sectors, improve business support, and promote fair work.
We have prioritised the regeneration of the historic High Street, pictured, and Saltmarket areas, initiated a review of employability provision to target those who are hardest to reach and furthest from the labour market, are preparing more properties to be made available to SMEs and have bid to attract Channel 4 to Glasgow. This would provide a major economic boost to our city.
To equip the city for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century we have really pushed our digital agenda. Digital is as important to Glasgow’s economy as heavy industry was in the past.
But, as changes to the system continue to be imposed, it is also essential to our fellow Glaswegians who rely on benefits. Crucially, we have set about rebuilding the city’s relationship with vital partners in the Third Sector, a relationship built on trust, respected and fairness.
This was but one legacy the City Government inherited requiring immediate attention.
So too did equal pay. Previous decisions have resulted in pay structures that have been challenged on the grounds they discriminate. Now, for the first time since the scheme was put in place, we have got much-needed political oversight and leadership in the process.
I promised to resolve this matter but no-one should be under any illusion negotiations will be quick and easy. They involve 11,000 potential claimants and hundreds of millions of pounds.
But we remain determined to right this situation. I often say our council staff are our greatest resource and in the past year we have resolved the long-running janitors’ dispute and moved to bring Cordia, which provides essential care to tens of thousands of our citizens, back into the council.
It’s what are staff asked of us and we believe it can improve frontline services. We promised to shake up how Glasgow does power and pilot schemes that give communities a major say in how millions of pounds are spent annually across the city are getting under way.
This is a significant shift in handing responsibility to those on the frontline of how resources are used, our communities. Over 300 people die in this city as a result of poor air quality, so our Low Emissions Zone, the first phase of which is introduced this year, is an essential measure for the city centre and beyond.
This is a major social justice issue. So too is public transport and its role in the city’s economy, on jobs and social inclusion. In the months ahead, the Connectivity Commission, a team of leading experts appointed by the City Government, will announce its plans to rethink transport, traffic management, our public spaces.
This is both an exciting and long-overdue move. Elsewhere, we have listened to the frequent complaints about the look and feel of the city and appointed 150 new posts to clean and maintain it, modernised dustbins in many tenements while investing in new technology to assist our Clean Glasgow endeavours.
We have led the way on new approaches to issues of addiction and hope the UK government will see sense and acknowledge the need for a radical new approach with safe consumption facilities.
We are overseeing continued expansion of Early Learning and Childcare, with positive submission of plans for expansion to 1140 hours and extension of free hours from 600 to 900 hours, have improved clothing grant for school uniforms from £54 to £70 and are launching a city-wide scheme so no child goes hungry during the holiday time.
This is just the beginning and these are the foundations for change.
Standing up for Glasgow isn’t about constant bickering and complaining.It is about making a strong clear case for the change Glasgow needs and working in partnership to use the phenomenal assets our city has in the right way so that everyone benefits; to build a Glasgow rooted in fairness, equity and inclusion.
The SNP City Government is determined to stay focussed on that task and to keep up the hard work of our first year. Thank you for your continuing support.
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