FORTY years ago Scotland's largest city launched a high-profile campaign. Glasgow's Miles Better was not only imaginative, but it also raised a smile, and managed to remind the world that Glasgow had a lot going for it.

As the Glasgow Herald remarked at the time - June 1983 - the 'Dear Green Place' had witnessed remarkable changes in recent years, from the regeneration of the East End to the landscaping of the riverside, from the opening of the Burrell Collection to the plans for what would eventually become the SECC.

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Much has happened since then, of course. The Broomielaw area is thriving, thanks to the success of the International Financial Services District. Much new housing has been built in the vicinity, while in the OVO Hydro Glasgow has one of the world's busiest entertainment venues. Across the Clyde, at Tradeston, the Buchanan Wharf development is home to Barclay’s impressive Northern European campus HQ, an 18-storey, 324-apartment residential complex, and now the new office HQ of the Student Loans Company.

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As we said a few weeks ago, the Tradeston site has been transformed from a post-industrial wasteland into a vibrant mix of office space, housing and riverside walkways. Indeed, there are signs that Glasgow's centre of gravity is tilting away from the 'Golden Z' of Argyle, Buchanan and Sauchiehall Streets and down to the waterfront.

Banksy's decision to locate his exhibition at GoMA is a fitting tribute to the city's edgy artistic side. The UGC cycling championships, "the biggest cycling event ever", which start on August 3, are a terrific boost for Glasgow. The 2014 Commonwealth Games continue to have a beneficial effect on the East End.

From time to time over the years, however, hands have been wrung over the decline of the city centre. This time, such grievances ring particularly true.

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The Herald's deputy business editor, Scott Wright, hit the nail on the head this week when he lamented that Glasgow’s current physical state is as poor as it has been since the early 1980s. Major streets that were once jewels in the crown, he noted, are filthy and inhospitable, blighted by boarded-up shop units and pubs, and intimidating beyond a certain time at night.

Sauchiehall Street's fortunes have risen and fallen with metronomic regularity over the years, but at the moment its condition strikes many people as little short of harrowing, with ugly gap sites and boarded-up units. The installation of elegant street furniture can only cover up so much.

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The quality of the retail offering in the street is variable. Up towards Charing Cross, the block containing what used to be the O2 ABC venue, destroyed in the Art School fire of 2018, is dreadful. It is hard to imagine any other big European city permitting such an eyesore to fester for so long. Can the civic leaders and the private sector between them really not have devised a workable solution after five years?

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It has to be acknowledged that the city, like others elsewhere, is fighting fires on several fronts: the lingering consequences of the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis, substantial shifts in working patterns, and the pressures confronting the property market. The hospitality sector, long a vital part of the Glasgow story, needs more support, a deficiency illustrated by the sobering closure of Brian Maule's fine-dining restaurant. How many other restaurants, how many shops and stores will follow?

The decision by First Bus to withdraw its night bus services (delayed after an outcry from politicians, late-night workers and business owners) reflects the fact that central Glasgow is not as busy as it once was, particularly in the evenings. But would it not be better for the city if efforts were concentrated on bringing people back? The city's low-emission zone (LEZ) makes sense from an environmental point of view, but will have an impact on footfall in the city centre.

Some interesting moves are in the pipeline, such as the ambitious plans to rebuild St Enoch Centre and to replace the Buchanan Galleries with a mixed-use development. A long-term vision for the Golden Z will be unveiled on August 14. And Glasgow City Region has been chosen as an investment zone, with £80 million being poured in over five years.

As welcome as such developments are, it will take years before their full impact is felt, and before we can judge whether they make good the seeming neglect of the city centre. The key point is that, as has long been recognised, a vibrant Glasgow is important for Scotland. The Herald intends examining all aspects of Glasgow’s stalled regeneration, including the question of how comparable English cities are responding to the many challenges. We will speak to experts and policy-makers alike, while, as ever, remaining positive about the city’s future and offering constructive criticism.

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Glasgow is at a crossroads. What should it be looking at doing? Should the concept of an elected mayor be explored? Dr Michael Kelly, the Lord Provost behind the Glasgow's Miles Better campaign, proposes the creation of a Greater Glasgow Authority with an elected head, publicly funded, with investment and planning powers "to restore the damage done over the last number of years".

Ought there to be a Minister for Glasgow? Would a tourist tax be a sensible revenue-raising gesture? Should the local authorities that adjoin the city be asked for ideas for the Glasgow of the future? The city has a relatively young and educated population, and many strengths. It is time to seize the moment and give Glasgow the imaginative, determined, results-driven leadership it needs.