New Year is a traditionally a time of resolutions and new beginnings.

I don’t generally makes resolutions, but I do try to start the year on a positive note by getting outdoors for a daily walk as often as I can to help both my physical and mental wellbeing.

We’re very much blessed locally with access to beautiful parks and waterside routes as well as the hills and, as long as you’ve got the right clothing on, there’s plenty to enjoy.

My favourite places are along the foreshore at Dumbarton Castle and around our beautifully maintained Levengrove Park. A walk along the Clyde foreshore generally means I take a bag with me and pick up some litter while I’m there: we have a good core number of volunteers trying to combat what washes up on our shores from the tides, but the fight against marine litter is an ongoing battle – and not just in Dumbarton either.

The colder weather of the last few days has meant West Dunbartonshire Council’s roads and greenspace teams have been out working hard to keep as many of Dumbarton and the Vale’s roads and footways gritted as possible.

I’d like to state on the record here that I’m really appreciative of their efforts to keep members of the public – as are so many of our residents and council employees, especially our wonderful carers looking after our most vulnerable residents in our care homes and our care at home services.

Whilst it seems at times that we’re still very restricted in what we are able to do, and it often feels like this pandemic is never ending, it’s important to reflect on how far we have come in the past two years.

The first lockdown in the spring of 2020 seems at times like a bad dream – and with first and second vaccination doses now having been taken up by the vast majority of our population, and the rollout of booster doses progressing well, the crippling fear experienced by so many of us in the first few weeks and months of the pandemic is thankfully much reduced.

It’s important however not to get blasé, and to keep taking precautions against the transmission of this virus – and with that in mind I’d urge everyone to get vaccinated and get your booster if you haven’t already done so.

I got my booster last Friday and thank all the staff who are working so hard on this programme.

Lastly I’d like to wish everyone a healthier and happier year where we continue looking out for one another in West Dunbartonshire.