SUSAN Aitken will have her work cut out if she really wants to restore the fortunes of Glasgow. It is not just the Z of Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street and Argyll Street but streets such as Maryhill Road, Great Western Road and countless others north and south of the river which are now just a sad shadow of their former state.

I graduated in civil engineering from Glasgow Uni and I worked for the Glasgow City Engineer in the Office of Public Works in the early 1970s. Back then Glasgow was at the world forefront in traffic management and the computer control of traffic signals. Streets were well maintained and managed thanks to roads inspectors. Buchanan Street was already pedestrianised and we had plans for much more, some of which came to fruition under the auspices of Strathclyde Regional Council. Maintaining and promoting the economy of the west of Scotland lay at the heart of detailed and costed action plans prepared by the regional council. But of course, the success of Strathclyde was not to the liking of Westminster and it was disbanded.

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Travelling home from the city centre on the 60A bus this week brought me to despair. Try sitting in the front seat upstairs and note the things that need action as you bump along through the potholes! Road and footway surfaces are falling apart, ravaged by the activities of the so-called public utilities. Temporary road signs, bollards and barriers are left abandoned. Weeds grow everywhere, causing further damage to surfaces. Traffic signals churn around slowly with little or no benefit to pedestrians, cyclists or buses, far less more general traffic. Poorly designed cycle lanes are being implemented with a proliferation of traffic signal poles and signage – why use one pole when three will do? Cyclists behave anarchically with no regard for the Highway Code, traffic signals or the safety of pedestrians No-one enforces parking restrictions (woe betide anyone daring to disobey the peak hour clearways in the days of the traffic police). I could go on and on.

I am lucky in that I have just returned from a holiday travelling the length of Denmark, Norway and Sweden and their obvious pride in the state of their town centres made me ashamed of my home country. If the Scandinavian countries can find the resources and the will to maintain and improve their infrastructure, the sooner we have independence from the stultifying hand of Westminster, the better.

Ian Lawson

THERE has been an ongoing debate in Scotland about whether or not there should be “safe” consumption rooms in Scotland. In essence, a controlled environment where people with heroin addictions can go to inject in a clean place with public health workers there to offer them support.

It has become a constitutional issue, but there are likely many people who support consumption rooms but do not support Scottish independence and conversely many people that support Scottish independence but do not support consumption rooms.

However, whilst many people focus on the politics of the issue it does seem they have not being paying attention to the reality of what public health professionals are actually doing.

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Last year’s reduction in Scottish drug deaths is largely as a result of a significant drop in deaths in Glasgow. Across Scotland a significant number of council areas actually witnessed an increase in drugs deaths.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is far from perfect and needs much improvement at senior level but it has implemented several innovative approaches in recent years which have improved access to harm reduction, treatment and care, and recovery including the enhanced drug treatment facility.

The service aims to reduce the harms associated with high-risk heroin addiction, as well as improving health and social outcomes while offering those who use the service an opportunity to discuss wider care needs with people as they engage with treatment.

This is the first service in Scotland to offer heroin-assisted treatment to people with severe opioid dependence who have been unable to engage with mainstream treatment options. The service provides fully supervised injectable diamorphine to those who suffer from severe opioid dependence and offers support to a population with severe and multiple disadvantages and complex needs.

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There is no need for immediate legislative changes to allow Scotland to fully and properly implement harm-reduction measures such as supervised drug consumption facilities – because they are already happening by using drugs which are available on the NHS in Scotland.

If this is not a safe consumption room then I would be grateful to those politicians who are demanding them to explain why it is not. If it is, then perhaps they should put their efforts into fully supporting this service, signposting those in need to it and lobbying the government to put in place the funding so it can be rolled out across the entire country where need exists. Surely building upon the early success of this model would be much better than constantly demanding drugs consumption rooms in Scotland when our own NHS has had the wisdom to make them a reality.

Christopher McEleny
General Secretary, Alba Party