The former head of an organisation trying to tackle Dundee’s drug problem has revealed members often did not bother to attend meetings in the two years he was in charge.
Drew Walker, who chaired the Dundee Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) until stepping down this summer, said he “couldn’t understand” why some did not prioritise the organisation.
Mr Walker was giving evidence at the Dundee Drug Commission, set up to tackle the city’s rising number of drug deaths, now the highest in Europe.
He said some bodies failed to send a senior representative – or even anyone at all – to ADP meetings.
Commission member and SNP councillor Ken Lynn, who is also on the board of NHS Tayside, said he was “astounded and angry” at the revelation.
He said: “One of the main tasks of the ADP is to prevent people from dying.
“We’re talking about lives being lost, not filling in potholes. That will be changing.
“I want to know who wasn’t there. We need to make sure it’s not happening on an ongoing basis. I think it’s incredible and really shocking.
“How much more important can an issue be?”
Mr Walker, director of public health at NHS Tayside, spoke of his disappointment at the lack of representation and said: “I don’t know why some have seen the importance of the ADP but some didn’t.
“Participation should have been pretty close to 100%.
“It wasn’t for want of trying but I can’t force people to come.
“Unfortunately, the level of commitment was not mirrored across the patch. I’m sure people had a good reason for not being there but I just didn’t know what that was.
“It’s a hugely important issue. I prioritised it and so did a lot of other people.”
Mr Walker stepped down from being chair of the ADP citing “competing work priorities”.
He had been under pressure from the commission to give evidence since quitting.