Positive momentum will see our task force succeed | Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
Stuart Patrick, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
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Positive momentum will see our task force succeed

By Stuart Patrick, Chief Executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce 

A fortnight after the publication of Glasgow City Council’s city centre action plan, the first meeting of the refreshed task force will be held this week. As I said recently on BBC Radio Scotland, we have dissected the issues facing the city centre at length and our focus should now be on delivering change. Of course, Chamber is a willing and, we hope, constructive partner.

It’s not that positive change has been entirely absent to date.  This month will see the formal launch of J P Morgan’s sizeable new office building on Argyle Street next door to the Radisson Blu hotel.  Staff have already moved in and having had a sneak preview, the atmosphere was energetic and hopeful. With more staff on the books now than before the pandemic, the opening of the office is very likely to have a welcome knock-on effect on its Argyle Street surroundings.

The Social Hub at 15 Candleriggs Square will also open this month and the Chamber will hold a Glasgow Talks event at the venue on 17 April, so please take the chance to see another new investment in the fabric of the our city centre. Right in the heart of the Glasgow City Innovation District, the Social Hub is a growing and international network of hybrid spaces. Originally a student hotel concept, it has evolved into part tourist hotel, part co-living and part co-working hub for the wider community. It’s a genuinely exciting addition to the city.

The new City Centre Task Force will be supported by several new workstreams, each devoted to tackling one of the major issues set out in the action plan.  These will include a development workstream to help clear the path for the business investment we need to help bring vacant units and sites back into contemporary uses.  The transport group will look at how public transport can be improved especially in support of the night time economy and the city services group will work on the city centre’s look and feel, aiming to get on top of the public perception of a centre that is under managed and grubby.

Also worth noting was last week’s City Council announcement that the budget plan to introduce city centre on-street parking charges between 6pm and 10pm has been put on ice. Thanks to all those members who participated in our survey telling us that 85% were against that plan and to those like Lord Willie Haughey, Sir Tom Hunter and Donald McLeod who made their views well known.  It is encouraging that the City Council is demonstrably open to debate.

We can also confirm that the Chamber has applied for the feasibility funding for a city centre Business Improvement District. It is now over 16 years since the original bid lost out by less than a handful of votes and we have been urged by several members that now is the time to revisit the idea.

Further good news will emerge over the coming weeks as the public call for proposals for the Glasgow City Region Investment Zone closed on 31 March. We understand that there are more than enough options for deploying the £160m funding over 10 years. Obviously, we are very keen to hear which proposals are selected for support but even those that miss out offer an opportunity for the City Region to encourage both the UK and Scottish governments to invest further in good projects.

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