The SNP's Humza Yousaf has credited Clydebank as the place that “brought him to where he is today” as he launched his bid to become the new leader of the party.

The cabinet secretary for health and social care addressed the press, members of political parties and his supporters at Clydebank Town Hall on Monday, February 20.

Mr Yousaf explained the reason behind his decision to kickstart his campaign in Clydebank was due to family ties to the area, adding that the town has “always had a special place” in his heart.

Clydebank Post:

Talking to the Post, he said: “Clydebank has always had a special place in my heart.

"When my grandfather was alive he would often talk about getting the bus to Clydebank to Singer’s Sewing Machine Factory where he worked as a hammer operator. He loved his work there.

“Like many South-Asian immigrants, he saved up, then opened up a shop, worked his way up, and became a self-made individual and it all started here in Clydebank.

“I see my ancestral roots as being not just Pakistani but running through Clydebank, which brought me to where I am today.”

Clydebank Post:

When quizzed about what he will do for Clydebank if elected as First Minister Mr Yousaf said he is determined to work with local government to regenerate the area and to ensure local people benefit from it.

He added: “Nicola Sturgeon did a lot for Clydebank and other areas but I think we look through the town and know that there needs to be regeneration.

“I’m keen to work with the council [West Dunbartonshire Council], I don’t care what political party you represent or who the administration is, I’m going to work with you to make sure that we can do as much as we possibly can to regenerate, make sure we’re supporting our local governments, and making sure the people of Clydebank, who are rightly very proud of their town, see that economic regeneration helping them.”

Clydebank Post: Martin Rooney, leader of West Dunbartonshire Council, Michelle McGinty, deputy leader of WDC, and Clare Steel, convenor of education services stand at the side of the room as Humza Yousaf makes his speechMartin Rooney, leader of West Dunbartonshire Council, Michelle McGinty, deputy leader of WDC, and Clare Steel, convenor of education services stand at the side of the room as Humza Yousaf makes his speech (Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images)

After concluding his speech Mr Yousaf was met with protests from the local Labour administration over funding cuts to local governments.

Council leader Martin Rooney, deputy council leader Michelle McGinty, and convenor of education services Clare Steel attempted to ask Mr Yousaf if he would be up for scrapping the newly proposed National Care Service (Scotland) Bill, however, were asked to wait until questions from the media were taken.

If passed, the Bill would allow Scottish ministers to transfer social care responsibility from local authorities to a new, national care service which could include adult and children’s services, as well as justice social work.

Council leader Martin Rooney told the Post that “every council in Scotland is suffering from budget cuts” at the moment and that he wanted to ask “when it’s going to stop”.

Mr Rooney commented: “I wanted to welcome Humza to West Dunbartonshire and it was good to see that he’s got a link with the place with his grandfather working in Singers.

“The question I wanted to ask him was in relation to funding for local government. I was specifically going to ask if he would be willing to scrap the National Care Service which is supposedly going to cost about £9billion, and use some of that funding to support local councils.

“Every council in Scotland is suffering from budget cuts this year. They’re facing a future of flat cash from the Scottish Government which means we’re building in cuts for the future.

“We’ve had 15 years worth of cuts and we want to know when it’s going to stop.

"The problem is the Scottish Government sets its budget tomorrow and if its budget is moved unamended then we will lose out on funding and will be left in a situation where we’ve got to close a £21m budget gap with no real funding from the Scottish Government.”

Mr Rooney added that he would like an assurance from Mr Yousaf over more support for local authorities.

He claimed Mr Yousaf appeared to be “avoiding” answering his questions.

The council leader said: “If he’s successful I would like to see him give assurances that he’s going to give more money to local government.

“We need it this year, we need it now, we don’t just need it further down the line.

"Every council is facing major cuts to services and jobs and it’s going to impact our communities.

“We’ve got some of the most vulnerable communities in West Dunbartonshire, we’ve got the second highest rates of domestic abuse, we’ve had 10,000 avoidable deaths, and we’ve got a child poverty rate of 33 per cent and that’s rising.

“An SNP Cosla spokesperson said this is a ‘socially harmful’ budget and the only way to address that ‘socially harmful’ budget is to give extra funding to local councils.

“That’s what I wanted to ask and get some comments from Humza on but it looks like he’s cut and run and he’s trying to avoid it.”

Michelle McGinty, depute leader of WDC, said she feels the area has “once again been let down” by the cabinet secretary.

She added: “It’s really disappointing that he wouldn’t answer our question because his answer was a non-answer.

“We already have trade unions, UNISON, and other workers saying that the National Care Service that they have proposed has no detail.

“They’re worrying about the cost, about staff/jobs so to say that ‘we’ll talk about it’ is nonsense because we’ve been talking about it for months.

“We genuinely believe what he should be doing is saying he will scrap that idea and the money that they’ve got put away should be put into saving services in our local communities.

“Services are being cut already, the cuts that we’ve seen in West Dunbartonshire will see job losses and people losing services in their community.

“As Martin said, 41 per cent of people in our community are living in fuel poverty, that’s unacceptable in this day and age.

“It is really scary that people are choosing between heating and eating and I think if you’re coming to this area to launch a leadership campaign, the decent thing would be to allow the people of this area to make representations.

“I think we’ve been quashed today and they’ve not allowed any real in-depth examination of what his policies are going to be as First Minister, so I think once again he’s let us down.”

Clare Steel, convenor of education services, said: “We’re here today with a very peaceful protest to ask the cabinet secretary what they’re going to do to support local government and to explain where the level of poverty is in West Dunbartonshire at the moment, the levels of deprivation we have, and ask what are they going to do to support us better so we don’t have to be making these really tough decisions that are going to impact so many lives.”

But the outburst from WDC’s Labour administration was branded as “childish embarrassing behaviour” by a local SNP councillor.

Sophie Traynor, Clydebank Central councillor, said: “An act of childish, embarrassing behaviour from the WDC Labour councillors today, but what’s new?”

Meanwhile, Scotland’s finance secretary has confirmed she is entering the race to succeed Nicola Sturgeon – with Kate Forbes’ announcement meaning there are now three candidates vying for the top job.

Ms Forbes, who had been widely tipped to stand, announced her decision on Monday, insisting she has the “vision, experience and competence to inspire voters across Scotland”.

Currently on maternity leave after giving birth to her first child last year, her announcement came as another possible successor to Ms Sturgeon, Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson, ruled himself out of the race.

Mr Robertson said having two very young children meant it was “not right for me and my family to take on such a huge commitment”.

Also standing for the leadership is former community safety minister Ash Regan, who resigned from her ministerial position in protest at the Scottish Government’s gender reform legislation.