SINCE my last column there’s been a real sense of energy and vitality building around the city as we hurtle towards another festive season.

For many of us, either due to belief or circumstance, Christmas and its expectations can be a time of stress and hardship or indeed of little consequence. In a multi-cultural city with its multitude of social challenges we shouldn’t lose sight of that.

This is the first Christmas of the new City Government and indeed my own new role and early in 2018 when we begin to plan for the following Christmas (a process I’ve learned begins in February) I’m keen to hear your views on the city’s offering at this time of year.

Being based in the heart of Glasgow at this time of year brings into sharp focus though just how important the city centre is to us socially, culturally and of course economically.

In the past week I unveiled the new administration’s vision, not just for the city centre, but for the wider and shared prosperity of Glasgow and Glaswegians.

Along with the budgets at Westminster and Holyrood, the State of the City Economy Conference is one of those important set-piece events which tells us folk in politics land the season of goodwill is fast upon us.

The key announcement was the establishment of an entirely independent commission, headed by one of the world’s leading experts on transport and tasked with coming up with transformative proposals to make our city centre competitive and an enhanced experience for visitors, businesses and citizens. They will look at our public realm, congestion and pollution and will also provide ideas on how to build a sustainable future for public transport.

We also need make our streets, in the words of Canadian urbanist Brent Toderian “sticky”. I get that’s a term which might lose something in translation but by that he means streets where people want to stop and enjoy their surroundings. Our city’s physical fabric must create the conditions and environment which encourages them to spend more time in our civic spaces, feeling and wanting to be part of it.

There have been long-held aspirations to make the city centre a desirable place to live, not simply for young professionals and students but as a realistic choice for families too. We’ve commissioned a report, which will be complete in the early part of next year, to give us recommendations and options on how to make this aspiration a reality.

If we’re serious about this we need to expand how we think of the city centre, to incorporate those communities on its fringes. Those driving the rebirth of the Gorbals, a community which traditionally saw itself as city centre, have set themselves an ambition for Laurieston to become a world-class city quarter, the South Bank of Glasgow, to an even greater extent than Gorbals was in its heyday.

Just to the north, work is gathering apace on the revitalisation of Sighthill, which will be better connected with the city centre than was ever previously the case, and which has the potential to trigger the a rebirth along Glasgow’s other waterfront, the canal.

And to the east, plans will be submitted in early 2018 for hundreds of quality new homes at High Street, a crucial asset in seeking to attract and retain high-quality jobs in Glasgow. All these new developments will be better connected to the city centre, either through new bridges across the motorway, upgraded railway stations or the pioneering South City Way and Mini-Holland schemes which will prioritise sustainable and public transport.

Last week I was delighted to help celebrate the achievements of many groups of young people the City Council has assisted into employment or modern apprenticeships.

Started in 2009, the Glasgow Guarantee Programme has supported over 8000 young people into a better future, providing skills, training, experience and indeed jobs.

The initiative has continued to expand and progress, developing into the most successful programme of its kind in the country.

Making my pick for the Leader’s Choice award was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in this job. Every one of the nominees demonstrated hard work, commitment, personal growth and strength of character, and all had become enormously valued by their colleagues.

But Georgia McKinney’s story shone through. Georgia is an apprentice at the Crossmyloof day care centre for older people. The empathy and compassion she shows for her clients - many of whom have dementia - and the respect she has for their individual humanity and dignity would be impressive at any age, but in someone so young it is inspirational.

Georgia and the other young people nominated for the awards are wonderful examples of the depth and diversity of talent and commitment to be found in Glasgow’s young workforce.

It’s sometimes very easy to take these things for granted, but when you take a step back and reflect on the scale of the success the Glasgow Guarantee has generated, it really is a remarkable programme and another example of Glasgow leading the way.