This week's column is by council leader Jonathan McColl

The council’s message on coronavirus is very simple: follow the advice from Public Health Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Take simple steps to help slow the spread by regularly washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water and avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

Current advice is to stay home for seven days if you have a new cough or a high temperature, and to only call 111 for advice if your condition worsens, you develop breathing difficulties, or if your symptoms do not improve after seven days. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

The council and other public bodies are following government advice to the letter and we have plans and resources in place, ready for future developments. If we can stay calm, use common sense and trust in each other and the authorities who serve us, our communities will weather this storm.

In happier news, for an unprecedented second year running, the council has approved a no cuts budget from the SNP. My whole team, but especially Cllr Ian Dickson, have worked hard to bring it together, and having met with the new finance secretary on the eve of her official appointment, I was pleased that she was able to find the money to provide the resources we needed in West Dunbartonshire to present and agree such a positive budget.

We are delivering free school meals for every primary school child; increase in learning assistants in our classrooms; targeting funding to improving roads and pavements in our residential areas; new support for addictions services by Alternatives; increasing employability support from the council; providing funding for welfare advice services at the Independent Resource Centre; funding of an extra qualified professional at CARA to boost their domestic abuse support services; funding for measures to respond to the climate emergency; and so much more.

I was also delighted to see Hospitalwatch support my position on how best to support the restoration of the Vale Hospital’s out-of-hours GP services. My work at the board, changing attitudes to the Vale of Leven Hospital and putting our local area at the heart of health service delivery, has ensured that in spite of the need for temporary arrangements to how the service is delivered, we will continue to have 24 hour access to GPs in the Vale of Leven, Dumbarton and Clydebank.

With the announcement from the UK Government that they intend to resolve pensions issues affecting GPs, I am confident that a local agreement will be reached soon to provide a bespoke out of hours service at the Vale of Leven Hospital, meeting the needs of our communities.