Glasgow councillor Russell Robertson explains why he is supporting Chris McEleny in the SNP depute leadership race

I AM a local SNP councillor in Glasgow and have been for almost six years. I have also just recently retired from the NHS in Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board.

My role there was to act as a conduit on behalf of North West Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership with the local independent, third-sector voluntary organisations and housing sectors looking at joint working opportunities and prevention of homelessness within this part of Glasgow.

Given my background in politics, the wider communities, NHS and working with external partners, it was clear from the start of the depute leadership contest that I would be supporting Chris McEleny.

As a fellow councillor he is all too aware of the challenges and opportunities facing local authorities, from local service delivery to realising the huge opportunities that community empowerment can open up.

Chris, if successful, will be ideally placed to speak to Nicola Sturgeon about improving links between local authorities and the Scottish Government.

He is the ideal consensus-builder to deliver that interface. Given his current role as leader of Inverclyde Council he is all too aware of the need to improve links between communities and decision makers within Holyrood and COSLA.

I am keen that we further explore the opportunities for “shared partnership” between our communities and the Scottish Government. We have to focus on the same priorities at a local level, make sure that they are reflected in each of our organisation’s plans, and work to achieve these goals locally and nationally.

Chris is much aware of these priorities and this is where I believe his strengths and experiences will impact as a strong depute leader.

Scotland’s local authorities are our country’s biggest asset. Let’s further realise those assets by electing a depute leader who has all those skills and experiences at local level. There is no better candidate than Chris McEleny to take us into a new era of a stronger local and national government partnership opportunities.

Let us show our members and our activists that we are the party to champion our communities, the party of change. We can do this by electing a serving councillor and community champion as our next depute leader.

I strongly believe that by creating fairer and more equal communities this will lead us on the road to independence.