ON Monday I met once again with senior management from Transport Scotland and Scotland Transerv who own and maintain the A8 and A78 in Inverclyde regarding the condition of the trunk road network.

I continually raise the issue of the network with them and I am pleased we have seen investment over the last year to improve the network including the resurfacing at Spango Valley and between Barrs Cottage and Pennyfern and the weeds finally cleared on the A78 around Inverclyde Academy. 

I also received confirmation that the road markings at the McDonald’s roundabout will be repainted in the near future and the planning to fix the road at the foot of Bow Road is now underway. 

I plan to go for a drive around with senior management in the near future to highlight other areas of concern I have.

Also on Monday, I chaired the second James Watt Festival Steering Group meeting at Glasgow University. Progress is being made and one of the fundamental questions has been answered — is this feasible and can we make it work? 

The answer from everyone at the meeting was a resounding yes. We now look towards the programme, funding and promoting the festival. 

The Beacon, RIG Arts, West College Scotland and Riverside Inverclyde locally have all pledged to support the festival which is a huge boost. We will hold another meeting before Christmas and I will again provide readers with an update.

In Parliament this week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave an historic statement of apology alongside the publication of Scotland’s ‘Turing Bill’ marking an important milestone for LGBTI equality that ‘will help Scotland move forward’.

The Bill will provide automatic pardons to all gay and bisexual men convicted under historical discriminatory laws against same-sex sexual activity that is now legal. 

The First Minister’s statement apologised for the discriminatory treatment of gay and bisexual men under previous governments, and I warmly welcome both her apology and the new legislation which signifies the SNP government’s commitment to equality by ensuring Scotland is the best place for all individuals to live regardless of sexual orientation, skin colour, age, gender or ability. 

This week also marks #LivingWageWeek which saw the announcement of Stoats as Scotland’s 1,000th accredited Living Wage employer and an increase to the UK Living Wage of 30p per hour, taking the new UK rate to £8.75 per hour. 

While I’m pleased that the real UK Living Wage has gone up and an additional 100 Scottish businesses since September have become Living Wage employers, it’s frustrating that this news coincides with The Trussell Trust’s report on the rise of foodbank usage.

According to the The Trussell Trust’s research, 26 per cent of foodbank referrals in the first six months of this year were from low income Scots — either people in work or on benefits — indicating that some pay and benefits levels do not protect people from crisis. 

Therefore, I’m urging more Inverclyde businesses to become Living Wage employers and my constituents to donate what they can to the local foodbanks so that they can better meet the increasing demand which will only get worse over winter.