Councillor calls for drug summit to tackle problem in Oban

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Tackling the drug supply in Oban is one of the police’s top priorities, the area commander has stated.

But former drug worker and Oban councillor Julie McKenzie thinks that more could be done to help those suffering from substance abuse.

Last year, Ms McKenzie called for a drug mapping exercise to be carried out to best ascertain the issue in the area.

Speaking this week, she said her calls ‘disappointingly and unsurprisingly’ fell on deaf ears.

She said: ‘Without such an exercise how can anyone say that our local services are meeting need and are fit for purpose?’

Iain Angus MacDonald, chairman of OASIS – an Oban-based addiction charity, has backed the councillor’s calls for a mapping exercise.

‘A proper independent needs assessment would go a long way to identify to what the problem is really like,’ he said.

Ms McKenzie added: ‘It’s clear to me that we could be doing things in a much more effective, joined up and person-centred way.

‘A mapping exercise is just one of the pieces of work required. If we are serious about tackling Oban’s drug problem then it’s time for a community drug summit involving all relevant local individuals and agencies.’

Ms McKenzie said she wrote to her fellow councillors, asking for them to acknowledge the problem and to work with her and other like-minded individuals to address the situation.

However, she said she had not yet received a response.

Policy lead for health and social care, Kieron Green said: ‘We had a business day yesterday [Monday] of the area committee and it came up at that.

‘Councillor Elaine Robertson, as well as being the chair of the area committee, is also the representative of the area committee on the local alcohol and drug forum.

‘That local forum has people from the police, the fire service, social work and so on – that seems the normal environment to raise this and she will do that at the next forum meeting.’

Councillor Green added that there is already a structure in place and they will see what coordinated action can be done.

Police Scotland Chief Inspector and area commander, Marlene Baillie, said: ‘Tackling drug supply is one of our top priorities for policing in Argyll and Bute.

‘Officers have been working hard over the last few months to target individuals who are involved in drug dealing in Oban and the surrounding area.

‘In the past week, for example we have recovered quantities of Diazepam, Valium, Diamorphine and a cannabis cultivation, and four persons have been charged with various drug-related offences, including drug supply.’

The Area Commander said further activity was planned.

A dedicated website has been set up by the Argyll and Bute Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP).

For more information on alcohol and drug support, advice and services available in Argyll and Bute, please visit the ADP website – www.argyllandbuteadp.info – or phone 01546 604948 or email High-UHB.ArgyllandButeADP@nhs.net