HELLO everyone, I hope you are enjoying your Christmas holiday and have had a good break so far.

At this time of year many of us will have different experiences.

Most of us will be on holiday but I am forever thankful to those who are working hard through the Christmas break. Be it our NHS staff working through Christmas and New Year or the council workers who are back at work already making sure the simple things we all rely on such as bin collections are happening on time, all do a great job.

Then of course there are the community heroes that continue to volunteer in and for our communities across Inverclyde. Society has created the image of the perfect family Christmas in front of a warm fireplace but even for people with families for many it is just not like that.

Many people locally suffer from depression, anxiety and especially at this time of year loneliness. Therefore from the bottom of my heart thank you to the people that have been giving up their time to volunteer so far during the holidays to help those in need; Our local Samaritan volunteers; local church groups, and many more.

Looking back on 2016 so many things happened which make it easy for us to lose hope: terrorist attacks around the world; the atrocities of war in Aleppo and Yemen; floods and earthquakes, many of which that don’t really get reported.

Of course in 2016 many people died who were iconic figures that many of us grew up with. Sometimes it feels like there are too many things we can’t control but it’s important to remember the things we can – forgiveness, second chances and fresh starts.

John F. Kennedy once reminded the world during a similar period of uncertainty that there is much more in the world that we have in common than we do not.

We all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children’s future and we are all mortal. It is our hope of a better tomorrow that is our greatest strength.

My hope for 2017 is that Inverclyde can be a progressive beacon to show that there is a better way to do things. It is time for change and we will have the opportunity in May to decide what our priorities are going forward.

Of course you will not be surprised to learn that my hope for Scotland is that we move closer to becoming an independent country, I truly believe that this is the best way to make Inverclyde a fairer and more just place to live.

However I fully accept that many of you are as of yet still not of that persuasion.

My resolution in 2017 to you is to continue to work hard for Inverclyde to earn your trust to help deliver change for the better for every community in our area.

May I wish you a happy and prosperous 2017.