The summer holidays have come and gone and school pupils had their excited return in early August.

One of the most significant issues this summer has been the stark reminders of the dangers of open water in Scotland and once again families have lost loved ones, including in Loch Lomond.

The council is committed to work in partnership with other partners to do what it can to keep people safe.

This includes practical measures and water safety information.

I was delighted to finally see the introduction of water safety equipment this week – something the families of those affected have campaigned for.

The summer sunshine has attracted lots of day trippers to local destinations such as Balloch.

While the vast majority were responsible and considerate, we’ve experienced some anti-social behaviour from a minority which required a concerted response from the council and our partners and will continue to be a high priority moving forward.

The end of the summer has also meant the move to “beyond level zero” allowing more freedom to meet up in larger groups, more businesses to open and for fans to return to sporting events.

Unfortunately, this has also brought a rapid increase in Covid rates, and on Wednesday the rate in West Dunbartonshire was 945 cases per 100,000 people – the highest ever recorded in Scotland.

It takes time for changes to feed into the statistics, so it is expected that the opening up of schools, colleges and universities could lead to further increases, and we need to ensure we are still taking precautions to keep our communities safe.

The council has started to deal with the backlog of repairs and improvement works but there is a long way to go.

We also have to address the condition of our estates, with overgrown grass, fly tipping, bulky uplift items and litter.

In addition, councillors are still receiving complaints about calls going unanswered or expected works not being done as planned but the council is aware of the issues and we expect to see improvements over the coming months.

We had our first council meeting last week following the summer recess and there were a lot of interesting issues discussed.

Labour used this opportunity to highlight several issues of concern, with motions on drug deaths, mental health, water safety, and seagulls.

Labour also proposed a motion to double the school clothing grant from £150 per child to £300 per child.

The SNP administration opposed it but we shall continue our efforts to bring this about either through a cross party approach or a future Labour administration will double it again.