I’D LIKE to start my last Reporter column of 2020 by thanking all key workers for their efforts to keep the whole country going over the past eight months.

We have a plethora of unsung heroes who kept the lights on and who protected our critical national infrastructure; transported other key workers to and from work, took people to the shops and back, and collected medicines and other essentials and delivered them to people’s homes.

We’ve also had an army of predominantly women workers, who stepped up to the front line by providing care to our elderly, disabled and sick, at home, in a hospital or residential care setting.

To a large extent women workers have been the backbone of our response to the public health emergency – keeping the shops open, cleaning workplaces, schools and shops and caring for family members and much more.

There are lots of female workers in the council at all levels including managers, teachers, social work, caterers and care staff and many other roles.

We’ve also had lots of council services being delivered during the pandemic, such as cemetery workers helping bereaved families at their time of need; our refuse workers working throughout this time; skilled workers such as plumbers, joiners and electricians remained at work providing vital services to our communities; road workers carried on their job making sure hazards were fixed in time. And there were lots of other staff who were needed to make everything work, such as janitors and admin staff in schools.

Our thanks to them shouldn’t be conditional on the sector they worked in or the amount of conditioned hours they completed each week. Every single one of these workers put themselves in harm’s way and deserve our thanks, appreciation and recognition for what they have done for our communities at a time of need.

Despite the gloom of the pandemic and the impact it has had on people’s lives and our economy, there have been a lot of good things happening within West Dunbartonshire.

A lot of the infrastructure projects that were initiated under the previous Labour administration were able to progress this year such as the new housing at the former Haldane Primary School site, at Dumbarton Harbour and elsewhere.

Large infrastructure projects such as the developments at the former John Browns site in Clydebank have had new housing built; a new care home built and a new health centre is planned. The Exxon development is on track to give us the additional east-west road and a new business Park that could accommodate 900 jobs in the future. We are expecting tougher economic times ahead which means that we need to invest in our infrastructure to secure a better future for our residents.