THIS is my first chance to wish Telegraph readers a happy new year.

I hope you had a good Christmas and a chance to celebrate and relax.

Now we are back to our everyday lives with memories of the excitement and festivities already starting to fade.

As we look ahead to 2017, there are many things to look forward to.
Just this week sees the official opening of another in the long list of the council’s many new and substantially refurbished schools.
Kilmacolm Primary School is the first one of the year.

In Inverkip, the new community centre will be opened shortly and the new St Patrick’s Primary School will also be opening its doors soon too.

It’s easy to look at the many millions of pounds spent and the bricks and mortar and forget that what happens inside these buildings is the real reason the council makes these investments.

The schools across Inverclyde are benefitting from major improvements in the buildings. That investment is there to support the tremendous work going on through our teachers and school staff.

They put in so much every day of the year to help give our young people the very best start in life, and we are fortunate to have so many hard working and dedicated people working there.

The new schools already in operation, and the ones about to be formally opened, will help to help continue to lay these fine foundations.

In Inverkip, a new community centre will provide the community with a brand new facility, and again the investment and the building is there to support the community and give a location for more local activities and events.

Later in the year we welcome back the P1 Scottish Grand Prix of the Sea powerboat racing to Greenock.

Last year was the first time this event had been held in Scotland and, as well as being a really good day out for Inverclyde residents, it’s also a chance to showcase our area to a wider audience and to encourage more visitors to our area.

The P1 Scottish Grand Prix of the Sea takes place on the weekend of Saturday 24 and Sunday June 25.

l I’d like to thank the many people who supported me throughout December to raise money for Bowel Cancer UK as part of their ‘Decembeard’ campaign.

Every opportunity to support campaigns or to raise awareness is one not to be missed. The start of the year is a time when many people are trying to give up bad habits – and pick up good new ones.

It’s important that we support each other to achieve our goals, whether it is quitting smoking or taking up more exercise.

Small changes can make a huge difference.