GLASGOW is a “filthy” and “unkempt” city that is in economic and political decline, according to one of the country’s top trade unionists.

In a blistering attack on the state of Scotland’s largest city, GMB Scotland boss Gary Smith also derided the quality of the local airport and said Glasgow is suffering from an “epidemic” of rats.

He added: “Glasgow is teetering on the brink of crisis.”

In common with local authorities across Scotland, Glasgow council has endured a tight squeeze on public spending for nearly a decade.

The UK Government’s austerity agenda has put pressure on Holyrood’s budget, but the SNP Government also stands accused of passing on cuts to local government.

Figures from the Parliament show that the council’s revenue funding per head dropped by £270 between 20131/4 to 2019/20.

Thousands of local authority job losses have slashed costs and services have been cut. An equal pay dispute, which pre-dates the years of austerity, also placed additional burdens on budgets, and thoroughfares such as Sauchiehall Street and Argyll Street are regarded as eyesores.

It was also reported that 14,000 rat infestation complaints had been made and last week it emerged that Glasgow’s homes had been visited more than 12,000 times by pest control staff over the past 18 months.

However, the council’s defenders say that the city’s educational outcomes are healthy and that many of the local authority's outcomes are positive.

Smith, whose union represents thousands of council staff, is a critic of the way the city has been run over the years.

Labour, to which his trade union is affiliated, ran the local authority for decades, but was dumped from office by the Nationalists in 2016.

The union leader, who moved back to Scotland after living and working in the south of England, lashed out at what he regards as Glasgow’s crumbling public sphere.

He said: “It feels like a city that is in decline. We’ve got public buildings in a state of decay - the Mitchell Library, the problems with the People’s Palace - the streets are absolutely filthy and we’ve got an epidemic of rats in large parts of the city.

“Too often the politicians are happy to hide behind this bluff and bluster about ‘people make Glasgow’. The people of Glasgow deserve better than they are getting.”

Smith blasted a combination of public spending cuts and “backdoor” privatisation, saying: “All of this leaves the city in a state that feels unkempt, unloved and, in a lot of areas, actually really filthy.”

Asked if he believed Glasgow is going backwards, he said: “Yes, definitely. It is a city that is in economic and political decline. It feels as though the power and wealth is increasingly centred in Edinburgh, which is like a mini-London.”

The Herald on Sunday last month reported Scotland’s changing demographics, which are expected to see families leaving areas such as Inverclyde and Ayrshire for locations such as Edinburgh and the wider Lothians. The capital is in line to enjoy a 37,000 population boom, more than Glasgow.

Smith unfavourably contrasted the large “flows of traffic” coming into Edinburgh with those coming into Glasgow, adding: “Look at the state of Glasgow airport compared to Edinburgh. You’ve got temporary buildings, you’ve no rail link into the city centre....It feels like a city that has been neglected and starved of investment.”

Smith said the creation of the Parliament was supposed to help Glasgow, but claimed the reality had been different:

“One of the fundamental reasons why devolution is not delivering is that it was supposed to rebalance the economy. I don’t see any evidence that that is happening, particularly in the west coast of Scotland.”

He added: “There is no way the Scottish Government can keep burying its head in the sand with the state and the decline of Glasgow.”

Scottish Tory MSP Annie Wells said: “There’s no doubt that this SNP council administration is badly letting down Glasgow. Under them we have seen problems across the city go unaddressed, especially concerning the growth of rats and uncollected waste. Meanwhile SNP councillors would prefer to spend their time talking about independence rather than tackling these serious issues.”

Susan Aitken, the SNP leader of Glasgow council, said: “Contrary to what Mr Smith says, GMB members are doing a great job for Glasgow. Any big city faces challenges with waste and litter, but we are investing in our services – including taking on additional staff.”