I WAS delighted to have been part of last week’s momentous decision by the Health and Social Care Partnership’s Integrated Joint Board which approved the proposals to open a safe drugs consumption facility in Glasgow.

That facility, which medical professionals and international experience tell us can save many lives, will operate from a site at Hunter Street in the East End of Glasgow.

A safer drug consumption facility offers a compassionate service which focuses on reducing the harms associated with injecting drug use.

It helps people access the appropriate services to meet their challenges. By doing so, health and social care professionals are able to reach an extremely vulnerable group who often do not engage with existing services.

A hugely important next step, and a factor Scotland’s Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain was very clear about when allowing Glasgow to move forward with the pilot facility, was conducting proper public engagement.

It’s clear that for the facility to work, we really need the local community in the vicinity of Hunter Street to help shape its success.

An intervention as significant as this will clearly generate a lot of questions from within the local community and I was pleased to attend a recent public meeting in the Calton area to listen directly to the community. Their voice is crucial in this.

A key question was how the facility will benefit the community of the inner East End.

There is a wealth of evidence that shows the positive impact a safer drug consumption facility can have on a local community over and above serving its primary function of reversing overdoses and saving lives.

They reduce public injecting, discarded needles and equipment, and the public health risks associated with public injecting, something that the local communities surrounding Hunter Street have contended with for many years.

As a local councillor for Dennistoun I have received numerous cases raised with me about discarded needles and drug paraphernalia often scattered around peoples closes and back courts.

In addition to having a positive impact on the community in which they are located there is also evidence that SDCFs do not increase crime or anti-social behaviour in that local area.

Glasgow’s facility will be monitored and evaluated to demonstrate the impact it has on the local area and those who use the service.

Another important question was whether SDCFs encourage more drug use in the local area. We are very clear that SDCFs promote harm reduction, safer drug use and reduce drug related health issues and fatal overdoses.

They support people to make and maintain contact with other services to help with treatment and recovery.

There are already approximately 400 to 500 people injecting drugs in public places in and around Glasgow city centre on a regular basis and we want to be able to provide a safe, supervised and controlled healthcare setting which takes that off the streets and public spaces and offers those accessing the service a route to recovery.

All eyes are now on Glasgow to get this right.

By giving both our local communities and those who have lived and are living with experience of drug use a voice we can shape the successful implementation of this site.

And crucially, we can help our city in its mission to eliminate the avoidable deaths of our fellow citizens, the deaths of sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and friends, and improve the safety and well-being of our local communities.

VOTERS go to the polls in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election tomorrow and the choice couldn’t be any starker.

They have the choice to vote for Sir Keir Starmer’s branch office puppets here in Scotland who represent a UK Labour Party lurching ever further to the right.

This is a party which no longer hides behind its intentions to continue the cruel Tory policies like the two-child cap and the abhorrent rape clause.

These are policies affecting the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities here in Glasgow, across Lanarkshire and indeed all of Scotland.

Or they have a choice of the alternative, local champion and SNP candidate Katy Loudon. Katy will take decisions for and instructions from the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

She will stand up for the issues that matter to the people of the constituency, not the voters Sir Keir needs across the home counties to get him into Number 10.

Everything UK Labour do, no matter how much Anas Sarwar’s branch office puts up the facade of protest, is geared to winning votes in a political environment which has shifted significantly to the right and doesn’t represent the interests of the ordinary people of Scotland.

If elected, Katy will join with SNP colleagues in battling against the Westminster cost-of-living crisis that has inflicted misery on so many people in our local communities.

The SNP will fight for solutions, not continuity of the right-wing policies that Labour increasingly stand for.

This is the worst Tory government in living memory. No-one disputes that. But Labour are offering more of the same: Brexit, austerity and welfare policies that don’t protect families.

Westminster is broken and it is not working for this constituency. Let’s use this opportunity to send a message.

Vote the SNP’s Katy Loudon tomorrow.