THIS is budget season for local councils. Reams of paper covered in figures, public consultations and savings proposals.

No-one wants to see cutbacks made in any council department, especially when the money is sitting at Holyrood.

Unison have stated that they are disappointed at the underfunding of councils, and so am I.

The Scottish Government has received an increase of 11 per cent in the settlement it gets from the UK Government but only passed on a miserly 0.9 per cent increase to councils, after all the designated funding is taken out.

This shows a lack of respect for councils.

West Dunbartonshire councillors will do their best to spend wisely and in the best interests of local people.

Meanwhile, we all know that schools, teachers and pupils have been sorely tested by the Covid pandemic.

All primary children returned on a full-time basis on Monday, and a phased return is in progress for secondary pupils.

Thirty-five more teachers and teaching assistants have been employed by the council to provide extra help to settle pupils back into a learning routine.

It would be good to see a national tutoring programme so that those who have fallen behind their peers throughout lockdown are given every possible opportunity to catch up.

At the council meeting in February my motion on litter was unanimously supported.

The council’s litter strategy will be revised with ideas taken from successful policies that other councils have put in place.

A community approach to this problem, supported by the council, may be the best way forward.

To instil a sense of civic pride in the places in which we live, a simple litter pick achieves instant results, costs nothing and binds people together.

I hope to persuade those in charge of litter prevention, whether in the National Park, Visit Scotland or the council, that this year, before lockdown is lifted, we must be ahead of the game, with more bins and more frequent collections.

Ahead of COP26, the climate change conference coming to Glasgow in November, Scotland must show by actions that it is playing its part seriously.

The council plans to build homes to a ‘Passivhaus’ standard soon, something I led on and brought others on board.

Residents will enjoy warm dry homes with virtually no fuel bills.

Within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park there are examples of approved development that go against the protection of our environment, sustainability and biodiversity.

This is a worry.

At Ross Priory there are plans for a Leadership Centre with 2,017 square metres of buildings to be developed, when there are locally, empty buildings, such as Balloch Castle and Auchendennan, which could have housed this facility.

This development will also see 31 mature trees felled. Is this leadership?