“The number of needles I’ve picked up out of the garden…” – an increasingly common sentiment in Leith, demonstrating just how severe and neglected the situation is. With Scotland having one of the highest rates of drug related death in Europe, the societal impact is devastating, change is desperately need.
Richard Shillcock, the Communist Party’s candidate for Leith Walk ward, has emphasised the necessity of supporting the most vulnerable, and the forgotten in our society. With a drug death every three days, Edinburgh City is second only to Greater Glasgow in Scotland’s national disgrace. Tackling the drugs deaths is a campaign priority for Richard Shillcock saying “Supervised Safe Consumption Facilities (SCFs) save lives. They prevent overdoses. They stop blood-borne infection. They improve public safety. They reduce welfare spending. All this has been clear for many years, internationally.”
Highlighting the cross-party backing within Scotland, and support within the national structures – namely health, legal, and law enforcement structures. Dr. Shillcock also pointed out that “From late 2021, as the drug deaths climb, we’ve seen the resignation and replacement of the chair and deputy chair of the Scottish government’s drugs task force. We’ve seen positive statements from the new Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain. We’ve seen the task force reporting deadline brought forward to the summer” he added that “Despite Priti Patel’s opposition, this year—2022—can be the crucial year. The legal profession is surprisingly flexible when the political pressure is on. A green light can happen this year.”
The Communist council hopeful’s electoral campaign has been centred around this issue which he claims that despite a broad popularity amongst the population, has been overlooked by the Scottish Government and the local council. In a scathing condemnation of the council’s failing Dr. Shillcock said “It doesn’t take a political insider to see that the pressure is on to tackle Scotland’s shame—more than three times the drug deaths of anywhere else in Europe. But where is Edinburgh Council in all this? It has no plans ready to go.”
During his electoral campaign, Richard Shillcock and his team have talked with many local residents about the issues. One campaign activist said “Last week, one Leith Walk resident told me ‘The number of needles I’ve had to pick up out of the garden…it’s got worse during the pandemic”. Shillcock himself also stressed “I’ve been visiting tenement after tenement, campaigning in Leith Walk ward. I’ve been pressing on buzzers to get entry to common stairs. I’ve seen notice after notice warning other householders about drugs misuse on common stairs and in shared hallways.”
When looking towards the election in May, Shillcock simply stated “Edinburgh councillors need to catch up with Glasgow—pick a site and cost a SCF. We need to be ready for that green light. The council elections are the perfect opportunity for us all to make a noise to press the case for planning for an Edinburgh SCF. It’s my campaign priority.”