THERE have been a number of significant developments for improving our city centre approved or advanced since the last column a fortnight ago.

The scaling back of the safety cordon put in place in the aftermath of the School of Art fire will coincide with the Avenues Project visibly gathering apace.

Sauchiehall Street has been a top priority for the city since before the fires, and the £7.2million investment through the City Deal, will really enhance the vibrancy of the area for those who live, work or visit the area.

Later this week I’ll be joining school children from Garnetbank Primary School to help plant the first trees on The ‘Sauchiehall Avenue’, a symbolic moment in the street’s rebirth.

Alongside the Avenues project at the bottom end

of the street, there exists opportunities when the site at Victoria’s has been cleared to reimagine that part of the street, and bringing back city centre living is a key aspiration of the Council.

I met with the Secretary of State for Scotland in July in the immediate aftermath

of the fire and was told explicitly by him that the UK Government was committed to helping us recover from the fire.

A week ago the Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged £2million to Belfast. None of us would begrudge Belfast the assistance it needs to overcome its devastating fire and the impact it has had on the city. But with two fires on a street of national importance and a previous promise of assistance which hasn’t materialised, the anger that the Chancellor has excluded Glasgow is entirely understandable.

Compare this with the assistance from the Scottish Government. Their £5m fund has already helped almost

200 businesses impacted by the fire, and the Scottish Government and Council have provided financial support to residents too.

I have written to David Mundell calling on him to honour the commitment to Glasgow he made to me. Our future vision for Sauchiehall Street requires assistance from all levels of government. And the businesses in the area need the stability that a rejuvenated Sauchiehall Street would give.

I hope these calls for match funding are echoed by colleagues across the political spectrum – particularly the Tories. They must call on their party colleagues at Westminster to keep the promises made to the city. If they don’t their claims to support businesses on the street appear cynical and hollow.

In the meantime, we will continue to support business in the area, and advance our plans which will deliver the vibrancy and vitality Sauchiehall Street needs.

Meanwhile, I’m delighted to see the launch of our new plan to revitalise Glasgow’s historic heart.

Long overdue, the High Street Area Strategy, which also includes the Saltmarket, will promote the area’s rich history and built heritage but also focus on small businesses and the local economy.

The work has been spearheaded by Councillor Angus Millar with cross-party support from local elected members and is a model of the level of engagement that we want to build on going forward.

The area has undergone significant changes in recent years but one concern has been the potential for this to be at the expense of the history and heritage of the High Street.

We want the area’s past to have a significant role in shaping its future and to make the most of its attractions including the Cathedral and Necropolis, and more recent additions like the Murals’ Trail.

But what’s also exciting is how the strategy seeks to boost small businesses and start-ups and to make this part of the area’s overall offer.

The new “Meanwhile Space” initiative will bring vacant shop units into positive use. We’re expanding the “Independent Retail Fund” to support shopfront improvements.

We are also going to put in place a moratorium on rent increases for tenants in the upper High Street and Saltmarket areas, and

improve tenant engagement with local businesses.

In the coming years we want to make this area a magnet for start-ups and entrepreneurs so the High Street can once again become the celebrated and important quarter of Glasgow it has always had the potential return to.