SOMETIMES change can be seen as a bad thing, however, positive change can be seen as a way forward.

So doing something different or novel can be a good thing.

As housing and communities convener, I wanted us to increase the number of houses we have for tenants; make sure we had more suitable homes for larger households; tackle head-on the scourge of dampness and mould in our housing stock and look at ways of giving tenants more opportunities for accessing a home that better suits their needs.

Change takes time but we have made a start and my ambition is to make West Dunbartonshire housing sector-leading.

I know that this won’t be an easy task but that shouldn’t deter us from pushing forward with our improvement plans.

Last year I made a start with an extra £50million of additional investment in our housing services, which was fairly controversial at the beginning but we are already starting to see the fruits of our collective labour.

We have introduced a new dampness and mould protocol to ensure that we identified and understood the issues and we also began the roll-out of 2000 dampness monitors, with over 200 delivered so far.

We also approved the redevelopment of the Willox Park sheltered housing in Dumbarton to build new modern housing for vulnerable tenants, this won’t happen overnight but instead, it will be a steady progressive approach.

We are also progressing with our council house buy-back scheme, our aim is to buy 300 over five years and in our first year we added 50 homes to our housing stock and we expect to see this ramp-up over the coming years.

We have continued with our new council housing plans and the construction of 114 homes began last year with another 107 starting in 2024.

We will also be investing £18million in improving our existing housing stock this year with new heating systems, new windows, doors, roofs, kitchens, bathrooms and showers.

There is another major challenge that we need to face up to and that is whether/when we declare a housing emergency in West Dunbartonshire.

I’ve discussed this with my colleagues and the housing officers. Homelessness and rising demand for rented accommodation.

We have seen our population reduce over the years and at the same time homelessness and waiting lists have been stubbornly high.

I want to introduce change so that we can create more opportunities for our tenants who want to move from their current home onto one that better suits their family needs.

Without this flexibility, a lot of our tenants feel trapped in housing with no realistic possibility of moving on.

As I said earlier, change takes time but if we get it right then it can be transformative for our tenants and for our communities, so we need to continue to charge ahead because our tenants who are the ones who fund our housing services, deserve the very best service that we can give them.

I would request, that if you are having any housing issues, please do not hesitate to contact me or your ward councillor in order to investigate the issues.