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Labour vows to prioritise ‘waste crisis’ and boost high streets in Glasgow

Scottish Labour has unveiled its plans for the city of Glasgow (Jane Barlow/PA)
Scottish Labour has unveiled its plans for the city of Glasgow (Jane Barlow/PA)

Addressing Glasgow’s “waste crisis”, redeveloping its high streets and reopening community hubs are among Scottish Labour’s priorities for the city.

Leader Anas Sarwar launched Labour’s manifesto for the city for the upcoming local elections at Mount Vernon Community Hall, in the east end, on Thursday.

The party is looking to take back control of Glasgow City Council from the SNP, which took over at the last local government election in 2017.

Until then, the council had been under Labour leadership since its creation.

Anas Sarwar
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said the SNP losing leadership in Glasgow would be ‘the best thing’ for the city (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Sarwar said “the best thing” that could happen for Glasgow is “that we get rid” of current council leader Susan Aitken in the vote on May 5.

Ms Aitken has said she would be open to working in coalition with Scottish Labour should no majority emerge in the poll.

But Mr Sarwar made it clear that he would not budge on his reluctance to form a coalition with either the SNP or the Tories in any council area.

He told the PA news agency: “We want to elect as many Labour councillors as possible and as many Labour councils as possible, and why would we do a deal with two political parties that are bad for our city?

Bins in Glasgow
Glasgow City Council has come under fire over cleansing issues recently (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“Both are damaging our city, both are taking our city backwards.”

The party’s manifesto for Glasgow pledges to prioritise dealing with the cleansing issues, including the creation of 250 new jobs in cleansing services.

The SNP administration has come under fire for problems including fly-tipping, overflowing bins and reports of rats throughout the city.

Councillor Malcolm Cunning, leader for the Labour Party in Glasgow, said: “Over the past five years, under the current SNP administration, 269 posts have been lost within cleansing and we need to get as many as possible back into place to actually be lifting the bins, to be actually cleaning the streets.

“That’s the only way to make an improvement.”

When asked if the pandemic could be blamed for such issues around the city, Mr Cunning added: “The pandemic has brought things to a head. The pandemic is not the underlying cause.

“The underlying cause is 10 years – in fact, more – of consistent cuts to Glasgow’s budget and local authority budgets across Scotland, where somewhere between £300 million and £350 million has been robbed.”

Labour will also aim to encourage more businesses into Glasgow’s high streets, amid a challenging time for physical stores in the aftermath of coronavirus lockdowns.

Shoppers on Buchanan Street
Redeveloping Glasgow’s high streets is on Scottish Labour’s priorities, with footfall still low following Covid restrictions (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Cunning pointed to cities such as Leeds and Manchester, saying they have seen recovery in their high streets at a faster rate than Glasgow.

“What we don’t need are more and more working parties,” he said. “What we need are things getting done.”

Mr Sarwar added the party will also focus on “encouraging more tourism, making it more attractive for people to invest and open up in the city centres and the high streets, linking housing policy, and changing the culture of offline versus online” in its bid to aid recovery.

Labour will also set out to reopen community facilities – such as libraries, museums and community centres – in order to revitalise local neighbourhoods, and will support the building of 6,500 new affordable homes in the city.