It’s a great honour to be writing this column, my first with the title of ‘Councillor’ before my name.

Since that proud day in May, when I was one of 12 Labour candidates elected to form the only Labour majority administration in Scotland, I have been working tirelessly for our communities.

There’s no doubt about it, this is a big job with a lot to learn, and the first few weeks have been extremely busy.

However, I know that the most important thing I can do as a councillor is give my constituents a voice and drive positive change to make them proud to call West Dunbartonshire home.

As vice convener of the planning committee, I’ve already been involved in decisions which will play a part in shaping our area’s future, including approving the development of a plastics to hydrogen facility at Rothesay Dock. This type of investment in West Dunbartonshire is a great boost to our economy, and brings with it the potential for local jobs too.

At our first full council meeting last month, we brought forward our plans to support residents hardest hit by the cost of living crisis.

We recognise that people are struggling and that’s why we introduced real, tangible initiatives that will truly help keep costs down.

A £1million Cost of Living fund has been created and already it has been used to fund free swimming and gym access for our young people over the summer holidays. I know this has been extremely popular.

Funds have also been earmarked for food banks, which will receive £1,000 a week in extra support to ensure they are well stocked to cope with increased demand.

We’re also creating a household energy fund of £250,000 and have plans for innovative partnerships with major energy suppliers to ensure residents experiencing significant levels of fuel poverty receive support and early intervention to maintain their utility supply.

I am pleased that the town centre is set to be modernised with funding from the UK Government Levelling Up Fund. There will be improvements to the Artizan Centre and Glencairn House on the High Street. We will also have regeneration opportunities at the Exxon site, Strathleven Regeneration and various housing developments, so we still have a lot of work to do to improve our community.

I am truly grateful to those who used their votes to elect me and I will continue to use my voice to represent you locally. On a personal note I will continue to campaign with others for the release of my brother who has been detained, without trial, for almost five years.

Please get in touch with me any time – I will always do all I can to help. Email or call 07721302855.