Anas Sarwar accuses Nicola Sturgeon of turning a blind eye to Glasgow's rat and rubbish problem
Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of turning a blind eye to “tonnes of waste” piling up on streets of Glasgow ahead of the COP26 summit.
The First Minister rejected the claim and accused Labour leader Anas Sarwar of talking the city down for political purposes.
The climate summit is due to start on Monday, with around 25,000 delegates from all over the world attending. Another 100,000 are expected to take part in a protest next weekend.
However, the main media interest will likely be early next week when world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, will be addressing the conference.
During First Minister’s Questions, Sarwar said the eyes of the world would be on the city, and, he added, it was being let down by the SNP.
He told MSPs: “Over the next week the eyes of the world will be on Glasgow as leaders gather for our last great chance to avert the climate emergency. It's in all of our interests and those of future generations that COP26 succeeds. We have the opportunity to strike the historic Glasgow agreement.”
The Labour leader added: “I love Glasgow, it's my home, but frankly, is being let down by the SNP, who can't even get the basics right. Tonnes of waste piling up on our streets, fly-tipping on the rise, and over a million rats.
"Glasgow deserves better. So while Nicola Sturgeon lectures the world about the global environment, she is turning a blind eye on the environment Glaswegians are living in every single day. “
Sarwar urged the First Minister to join him tomorrow to meet with the city’s cleansing workers, who, along with school staff and other council employees, have vowed to down tools during the summit.
Sturgeon said she would be working hard to make sure the Scottish Government is doing everything to support COSLA and local authorities to reach an agreement with trade unions to resolve the issues here.
“That's my job and responsibility,” she said. “I don't shy away from the problems and the challenges that cities like Glasgow - Glasgow is not unique here - faces in the times that we live through right now.
"But nor will I stand here and allow Glasgow, one of the greatest cities in the world, to be talked down for political purposes in the way that Anas Sarwar has disgracefully been doing in recent times.”
Labour MSP Pam Duncan Glancy, who lives in Nicola Sturgeon’s constituency, told MSPs she had rats in her flat.
“Because there are rats running about our seats is not talking Glasgow down, it is letting Glasgow down,” she said.
The MSP asked the First Minister to meet with cleansing workers and show that “she cares.”
Sturgeon said she listened to workers on a daily basis.
She told MSPs: “As a resident of and a representative of the city of Glasgow, I don't shy away from the challenges that the city faces, but I do think some of the language that Labour is using about Glasgow, some of the ways in which Labour is seeking to characterise the city of Glasgow is doing a disservice to the city and to people who live there. And they're doing that for political purposes, and not in the interest of the city.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross asked the First Minister about the last minute agreement with the RMT that saw the union call off their planned strikes over COP26.
Ross said it should never have taken until 11th hour to secure a deal.
“Can the First Minister explain why the additional funding and urgency was only found to resolve this now, as world leaders are coming to town for COP26? And why are they more important than ordinary Scots who have had to put up with this since March?” he asked.
The First Minister said there was no new cash “A very reasonable offer was made to the real unions. Negotiations have been ongoing for some time. I think the reasonableness of the offer is evidenced by the fact that of the four real unions that were party to these negotiations, three of them had already accepted that offer.”
She said the deal offered last night was “the same as the one that was offered to the RMT earlier this week. The difference is for the second year, which the other unions have accepted, there will be further negotiations to come.”
The Tory leader also asked Strugeon about protesters during COP26. The question followed a statement from Extinction Rebellion who said they were planning high impact "deliberate disruption".
“We cannot sit back and allow deliberate and dangerous disruption of people's lives,” Ross said. “Will the First Minister reassure people across Glasgow that there will be a zero tolerance approach to protests that disrupt people going to the work, including doctors and nurses and ambulances carrying people in urgent need of medical care.”
The First Minister said it was for Police Scotland “to decide the appropriate approach to the policing of demonstrations”.
She said the force would “do everything possible to facilitate appropriate and peaceful protest”.
“People do want to come and make their voices heard, I think that is understandable given the importance of the issues under discussion but I would say to people looking to come to protest in Glasgow, do it peacefully and do it with the recognition that the people of Glasgow are agreeing to host this conference, are suffering some disruption because of that.”