WHEN I sent this column in to the Reporter, the polls in the Scottish Parliament election had closed but the votes had yet to be counted.

Now, of course, everyone knows the results, both locally and nationally, and all of us are anticipating what the next five years of politics in Scotland might entail.

Whatever your view on the result, however, we should thank everyone involved – from candidates and party supporters to voters and council staff – for running, and participating in, a successful election during the Covid restrictions.

Though in recent weeks we are thankfully seeing infection rates reduce significantly, holding an election in the current circumstances is no mean feat and all those involved in the smooth running of the democratic process deserve our thanks.

One of the first acts of who ever is appointed Scotland’s new housing minister should be to meet me and council colleagues to deal with, and right, a wrong with defective housing discovered in flat-roofed properties in Silverton a few years ago.

At last week’s housing committee meeting I informed members that those affected by the the defective roofs in Silverton are in a very similar situation to many homeowners whose high rise blocks have the same cladding that caused the devastating Grenfell Tower fire, when so many lives were lost.

Those residents of the flats are currently living in dangerous homes: they can’t sell them or rent them out, and are stuck with large mortgages through absolutely no fault of their own.

There is, rightly, a campaign for government to assist these homeowners for the greater good and for the sake of safety – and to recognise that no life should be in danger, and that we can’t leave those involved to sort out a financially unsolvable problem themselves.

In the UK Parliament in recent weeks more than 30 Tory MPs said that assisting these home owners in crisis was the right thing to do.

They rebelled against their own government in voting the way they did.

Sadly in our case, and despite many letters being sent and meetings being held with the housing minister, all attempts to help the Silverton home owners have been refused.

This is unacceptable.

Some houses are being left to rot, and worryingly, some are still occupied by families who simply cannot afford to move elsewhere.

West Dunbartonshire Council is doing what it can, under massive financial constraints.

But this issue should not be left to a cash-strapped council.

Our residents were abandoned by Scotland’s previous housing minister, and I am challenging the person appointed to the role after Thursday’s election, whoever they are, to work with me and with council colleagues and do the right thing.