A recent visit to the hairdresser drove home to me just how much local policy decisions can affect people’s lives. While getting my regular trim, my hairdresser told me he’d lost a day a week in his work schedule because of a drop in demand. Some of the salon’s longest-established customers were no longer coming in and it was due to increases in parking charges.

The salon is in the West End with customers travelling in from across the region, often combining a hair appointment with a coffee nearby. Parking charges of more than £10 for three hours were enough to make some think twice. I doubt then he will be pleased to hear Glasgow City Council is negotiating with the Scottish Government on new proposals to introduce a congestion charge for those entering the city by car.

The council is exploring a range of options for raising income to help balance the books and a congestion charge aimed at car drivers coming into the city from the surrounding region is being floated as one.

When this was raised with Chamber members some weeks ago, it was not well received. Many of the city’s business owners count themselves as proud Glaswegians, even if they happen to live outside the city boundaries. It is not their fault that the boundaries were gerrymandered during local government reorganisation specifically to exclude some of the city’s wealthier districts and suggesting that, as non-residents, they do not contribute to the city’s services is hardly a popular argument when they are busy building the businesses that provide many of the jobs Glaswegians rely upon.

Read more: Home truths on Glasgow's night-time economy

Nor is the city in the best shape to handle a further barrier to trade. Footfall in the city centre remains around 10 per cent below pre-pandemic levels, empty shop units are a growing blight and the impact of the full introduction of the Low Emission Zone is yet to be fully absorbed. Glasgow also has one of the lowest returns to the office among commuters of any city in the UK. Regional residents living outside the city borders may simply decide that the services Glasgow offers are no longer for them if barriers to accessing them continue to be built.

However, I doubt that Glasgow City Council would even be considering a congestion charge if it was not facing constant reductions in its budget. The collapse of Birmingham City Council has drawn immediate attention to the financial plight of local government down south. While there is no suggestion that local authorities in Scotland are on the verge of calling in the administrators, there is equally no doubt that local government finance has not been a top priority for the Scottish Government.

As the Audit Commission said in its recent overview of local government in Scotland, “councils have had to make significant savings to balance their budgets. Increasingly difficult choices about spending priorities and service provision are having to be made". Despite this, core funding is again set to reduce in real terms in the Scottish Government’s plan for the next four years.

It is worth keeping this in mind when considering what Humza Yousaf’s recent Programme for Government might mean when the Scottish Government shapes its next budget for announcement in December. For every headline policy initiative launched – and this year’s was an extension of free childcare – there must be a loser either in higher taxes or in reduced spending. How much more might be trimmed from local government or from local colleges in decisions that are not attracting the same headlines?

That the city council is looking at congestion charges is even more discomforting when funding over already-promised improvements in public transport, such as the Clyde Metro or the Scottish Bus Partnership Fund, remains unclear. These initiatives are both moving at a glacially slow pace, undermining confidence that they will ever be delivered.

I know my hairdresser will be paying close attention to any debate that follows on a congestion charge. He won’t want to lose yet another day a week simply to help keep local government finances afloat.

Stuart Patrick is CEO of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce