View from the Street: If you belong to Glasgow, help make it flourish

Stuart Taylor

View from the Street: If you belong to Glasgow, help make it flourish

As a young boy growing up in East Kilbride, the highlight of any trip into Glasgow was going over the Kingston Bridge.
 
This might seem unusual when you consider that at the time we had Europe's largest cinema on our doorstep, along with a whole host of shops and museums to be entertained by.
 
Things might make marginally more sense when I say that, at the time, I lived, breathed and slept football. And crossing that bridge, I could catch a glimpse of both Celtic Park and Ibrox, sitting almost perfectly in line with each other. For a kid who had the not-so-unique dream of playing the beautiful game for a living, those two stadiums stood out as a Mecca for my hopes and dreams amongst a dreary skyline of houses and tenement blocks. For me, at the time, the Old Firm rivalry symbolised what it meant to be “a Weegie”.
 
While I confess my sporting ambitions may have faded over the years (I haven’t officially hung up my boots because, well, you just never know), my narrow definition of what it means to be from Glasgow has considerably widened since my childhood, and indeed my fondness for the city has only grown.
 
However, I was prompted to consider what kind of city I would like to see in the decades to come by a recent series of events organised by The Times in Scotland that aims to debate what is in store for Scotland through the prism of its key cities, which in all likelihood will drive the desired economic and social growth.
 
As I have grown up, so has Glasgow. Indeed, you only have to travel that same bridge today to see the fruits of significant investment in the last couple of decades. In the west of the city sits the contemporary SSE Hydro arena, which plays host to the globe’s superstars on an almost daily basis, the Science Centre and the Glasgow Tower, which joins the cinema in having claimed a Guinness World Record for its size.
 
Yesterday marked the ten-year anniversary of Glasgow winning the bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Today, the Emirates Arena sits as a beacon for the regeneration of Glasgow’s East End that will hopefully spur the development of the next generation of Scottish athletes.
 
However, it also sits as a permanent reminder of the challenge facing those tasked with delivering the £1 billion investment as part of the City Region Deal, announced in the same summer as the Games.
 
When looking at ways to spend this sizable sum of money across its broad themes of improving infrastructure, tackling unemployment, and supporting business innovation, we should scrap the playbook of how things have always been done and think radically.
 
While I was at university in Cardiff, a proposal was under consideration to introduce a network of cable cars aimed at linking the city centre with the surrounding communities. Now, I’m not suggesting we start having flying cars the length of Sauchiehall Street, but the idea represents a characteristic of a forward-thinking city, and there is much for us to learn about how best to improve how we live and work from elsewhere in the UK and further afield.
 
And we should not just look to political and business leaders to deliver change. The onus is on us all to get involved and enact the transformation we seek.
 
Therefore, it was with great interest that I read about Glasgow City Council’s launch of a “Citizen’s Charter” at the end of last month, a contract to improve the city between the civic leadership and all those who call it home.
 
The charter set out 11 commitments that they wanted people to engage with, from taking part in elections to cleaning up dog mess and looking out for vulnerable people. In return, the city will take action on a range of issues, from our education system to the state of the roads.
 
What is so notable about the charter is that it highlights that the simplest of duties can go a long way in making that difference. We may not all be able to influence a strategy on boosting our arts and cultural sector, but by not dropping chewing gum on the streets, or by reporting vandalism on our buildings, we are helping to make the city we claim to love a little friendlier and cleaner to live and work in.
 
If we are to succeed in delivering a city fit for the challenges and opportunities of the future, it’s going to need everyone pulling together. That means our politicians opening the coffers to innovative businesses look to establish a base in the city, and their ears to those with the latest ingenious plan to eradicate our most serious social challenges, not least the scourge of Glasgow’s escalating homelessness crisis.
 
But it also means me and everyone else who holds Glasgow dear to our hearts doing all we can. However, small or trivial we think it might be.
 
Visitors to ‘Glasvegas’ are greeted with a large sign emblazoned with the city’s slogan: "People Make Glasgow". It’s now time for us all to get to work to make the ‘dear green place’ the modern, trailblazing, compassionate city its people so richly deserve.

 

Stuart Taylor is a senior associate at Charlotte Street Partners.