Nicola Sturgeon has accused the Scottish Labour leader of “talking down” Glasgow as the pair clashed over the city’s cleanliness and readiness for COP26.
The First Minister said she will not “shy away” from problems all cities face.
At First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Anas Sarwar said the SNP, which runs Glasgow City Council, has “let down” the city.
He said: “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 to the environment Glaswegians are living in every single day.”
He said he will on Friday join cleansing workers in Glasgow who are threatening industrial action during the global climate change summit.
Responding, Sturgeon said she will be “working hard” to ensure the dispute between unions and local government body Cosla is resolved.
She said: “I don’t shy away from the problems and the challenges that cities like Glasgow – Glasgow is not unique here – face 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.”
Sarwar said: “That was probably a historically out of touch answer from the First Minister.
“She’s basically saying to Glaswegians, that’s just as good as it gets.”
He also criticised the Scottish Government’s record on the environment, saying targets for renewable heating and greenhouse gas cuts have not been met.
Sturgeon said Scotland has decarbonised faster than any G20 country in recent years and the Government is publishing a “catch-up” plan for greenhouse gas cuts.
She said: “We decarbonise greater and faster than most other countries in the world.
“That’s why we lead by example.”
Scottish Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy also raised Glasgow’s cleanliness at First Minister’s Questions.
She said: “As my representative, as my MSP, I ask the First Minister again: please meet with cleansing workers tomorrow and hear from them first hand what is happening.
“I can assure you there are rats in our streets and there are rats in my flat.”
Sturgeon told her: “I don’t shy away – 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.”
The SNP leader of Glasgow City Council, Susan Aitken, faced questions about the waste situation from a committee of MPs earlier in the week.
She denied that bins are overflowing and said she is “not embarrassed” about the condition of the city ahead of COP26.
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