While we are all learning to live with the pandemic’s huge challenges, the calendar rolls on. We’re trying to find new ways to mark annual festivals, and figure out which traditions can be adapted and which need to be put aside.

I wonder when Bonfire Night started to become not one night but a whole season? These days it seems to start before October and run well past November 5.

It barely stops but starts again at Christmas and New Year. Add in weddings, birthdays and any number of other excuses, and you’ve got a huge amount of suffering going on for miles around, from people with trauma or noise sensitivity, including war veterans, to terrified pets, frightened livestock and numerous injuries from misuse.

Each year our emergency services have to deal with an increased number of firework and bonfire related incidents – including, horrifically, direct attacks on them.

The Scottish Government’s Fireworks Review Group has just published its report and recommendations following a consultation on the sale, use and problems associated with fireworks. I’m pleased to see that it has concluded a fundamental shift is required in how fireworks are accessed and used.

Its aim is not to stop people enjoying fireworks in a safe and controlled environment; it seeks to address problems associated with their spontaneous and unplanned use. The 11 recommendations it contains are progressive and sensible, and I look forward to the proposals making their way through the Scottish Parliament on their way to becoming law.

As we all look to the winter ahead, council preparations for gritting our roads and footpaths are already well under way, and I’m delighted that as an administration we have been able to extend the service that provides extra treatments for footways.

A team of 26 operatives will now be on standby overnight between November and March ready to treat pedestrian walkways – including areas around schools, healthcare facilities, sheltered housing complexes and transport hubs.

The short days and long nights can have an effect on people’s mood, and many struggle with mental health issues such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winter months. This, added to the year’s extra worries, could put more people at risk.

If you are finding it hard to cope, don’t struggle on your own – there is help available. Your GP, or mental health charities such as Mind, offer a wide range of support and advice.

On a lighter note, the council has run its annual competition to pick the names of our gritters. It’s been a pleasure to be one of the people chosen to judge the entries, and I hope the winning names will bring you a wee smile when you see them.