It’s finally summer, school’s out – and, at least for some of the time, so is the sun. I’ve been enjoying getting out and about walking, with the Pappert Hills (pictured), Whinny Hill and Balloch Park being my current favourite loops.

It’s all good practice for the Rob Roy Mighty Hike that I will be completing next month for Macmillan Cancer Support, with family and neighbours.

It’s been great seeing the number of folk that I have out there as the lockdown habits of many folk have apparently stuck well.

There are plenty of routes and the website has many walks of various lengths through woodlands, grasslands, muirs, wildlife corridors, nature reserves, parks and more.

It will be a good addition to your to-do list to tick a few of these off this summer.

I couldn’t be happier seeing the news that the Vale of Leven Trust were awarded funding from the National Lottery to enable the setting up of an Active Travel Hub.

This local charity is based in the Vale and is using the funds to recruit two staff members to undertake group led electric bike runs and health walks with local people.

If you are a development worker or bicycle mechanic, the jobs are online now and you can find them on GoodMoves or the Vale of Leven Trust’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

The Active Travel hub is volunteer-led so if walking/e-cycling appeals get in touch with them.

Sadly, it hasn’t all been great news outdoors, with firebugs and vandals targeting nursery and school playgrounds and public playparks in recent months.

I urge anyone who knows anything to report it, to prevent more of this happening in future.

On the brighter side councillors unanimously agreed to make emergency reserve funds available to repair and make these playparks safe as soon as we possibly can as the summer holidays have started.

At the same meeting I was pleased to get councillors to agree with me to increase the school clothing grant to £150 ahead of potential Scottish Government funding.

Councillors were told that finance officers anticipate the Scottish Government will add an extra £20 to the primary school grant (£120 total) and £50 to those of high school age (£150 total), and I have asked for the costs so we can make both up to £150 and have them paid out in a few months’ time.

Finally, I hope everyone stays safe. I had my first Covid vaccination in the Vale CE Centre a couple of weeks ago, and recommend everyone who is eligible to take up the offer of the vaccine to help protect themselves and the community.