Happy new year

I'd like to wish you all a happy new year and all the best for the year ahead. I hope everyone had a nice time over the festive period.

A special mention to those who were working during the holidays, including council staff. From emptying our bins to caring for the elderly and vulnerable, thank you for the important work you do all year round and especially at Christmas and new year.

Scottish budget

As usual, the Scottish Government’s draft budget announced just before Christmas was extremely disappointing, with councils once again being shortchanged.

Council leaders unanimously agreed at a special meeting on 21 December to make representations to the Finance Secretary, Shona Robison MSP, seeking a significantly improved settlement for local government.

Councillor Shona Morrison, the first SNP president of the council umbrella body COSLA, said: “COSLA’s initial analysis, shows a real terms cut to our revenue and capital spending power which will leave council services at breaking point, with some having to stop altogether.

"The budget in its current form could result in service cuts, job losses and an inevitable shift to providing statutory services only. This means potentially losing libraries, leisure centres and all the things that improve our lives.”

The Scottish Government claim to be giving councils more money than last year, however once you strip away ring-fenced funding and commitments made this year in relation to pay awards, there is less money available for councils in cash terms. When you consider the impact of inflation the cut is much bigger.

The draft settlement for councils provides no funding for pay awards in 2024, meaning we could face the prospect once again of strikes in our schools and other council services.

Locally, the council had prudently assumed a £0.5m cash cut in our revenue funding. The actual cut is nearly £2m, meaning we face having to make more cuts than originally envisaged or increase council tax rather than freeze it as the Scottish Government wants us to do.

This is something councillors and officials will be discussing over the coming weeks.

I echo the calls from COSLA and would urge the Scottish Government to rethink the poor local government settlement, otherwise it will be ordinary people in communities across Scotland who suffer when cuts to frontline services are made and none of us want to see that happening.

I would also urge our two SNP constituency MSPs, Stuart McMillan and Natalie Don, to lobby Shona Robison for a better deal for councils.

Danny Godfrey

I was shocked and very saddened to hear of the passing of former Inverclyde police sergeant Danny Godfrey.

During his distinguished career, Danny served as our local authority liaison officer and worked closely with council officers and councillors, including myself.

He was passionate about his work and dedicated to it. Nothing was ever a hassle to Danny, and he carried out his duties - and more - with a smile on his face and with his unique sense of humour.

It is so cruel that after decades of sterling public service his retirement lasted just seven months before his untimely passing. I send my deepest condolences to Danny’s family and many friends.