OVER the past couple of weeks, the City Government has taken a number of steps which we believe can really help Glasgow take great strides to be the best place it can be and improve the lives of ordinary Glaswegians.

Firstly, I’m delighted that we have made a unique appointment in Scottish local government, bringing into the Council one of the country’s leading experts on design and development to assist in our city planning.

Professor Brian Evans comes to us with a track record in advising the United Nations and having helped change the face of cities, from Moscow to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to Edinburgh.

Indeed, Brian played a leading role in what is regarded as a turning point in Glasgow’s recent history, the 1988 Garden Festival.

The role of the ‘City Urbanist’ isn’t simply about better buildings and higher quality designs; it’s about the lives of citizens and ensuring the Glasgow in which they live, work, study and enjoy themselves in is a city in which we all can flourish.

Looking back, especially to the 1960s and 1970s, some of our planning decisions didn’t benefit ordinary Glaswegians. And, indeed, there are some more recent examples which, if we could turn the clock back, we would do differently.

It’s notable that in the interviews Brian gave after being announced, he talks about the challenges the city has inherited, such as the fact we have a motorway which cuts through the heart of our city.

Glasgow is in a period of major transition. Climate change, demographic and technological change will all have huge impacts on how our city develops in the next 50 years and these are the issues Brian will help us factor into our planning.

He will look at issues such as the quality of our green spaces and how we use them, the use and development of the river Clyde, and how we how the city looks at housing, business, environment, transport and "place making" – a term that simply means putting people at the heart of decisions about physical environment and infrastructure. We know these issues are really important to ordinary Glaswegians, which is why they featured so strongly in our manifesto and in the Council’s Strategic Plan.

In the next few years, from growing demand on services through to the impact of the Equal Pay settlement and the shift to a knowledge economy, Glasgow will have more than its fair share of challenges. But these also bring opportunities.

Brian’s role will help position our city so it’s best placed to attract investment and jobs to help us grow a healthier, more sustainable, more equitable Glasgow.

Making better use of our own assets will be part of that. Our property and land are part of the fabric of the city and local communities. They help celebrate our heritage, are crucial for service delivery and provide opportunities for investment in the city and local areas.

But we need to collectively reimagine and rethink how they are used by, and with the people of Glasgow.

So, in the coming weeks we will unveil the city’s Property and Land Strategy, which will assess how fit for purposes our facilities are, find solutions to protect our built heritage, look for ways in which derelict sites are restored for productive use and open up ownership to community groups and organisations.

We are also blessed in Glasgow to have some of the leading educational institutions and academic expertise on these islands within our city.

So it was an honour to sign a landmark agreement with all of our universities, colleges and arts institutions, which makes available that expertise and advice as we seek to develop policies in the best interests of our citizens.

Together we have made a civic commitment to work across our boundaries to make a better Glasgow.

Whether that is at the highest international level, building global links and attracting inward investment, or right down to grassroots issues of inclusivity, improving health and bringing young people from challenged communities into our learning institutions, this agreement aims to work for our citizens and our economy.