NOW that the festive season is here and 2018 is approaching I would like to take this opportunity to wish Tele readers the very best for the New Year.

For many of us this is a time for reflection. It is a time to take stock and look back on all that has happened since we last welcomed a New Year — and make no mistake a lot has happened in Inverclyde in 2017.

The official opening of the new St Patrick’s Primary School, with more new schools on the way.

Dramatic changes along the riverside, with the demolition of the Inchgreen Cranes and the renovation of Custom House.

The growth of shipbuilding on the Lower Clyde once again.
The disappointing loss of McKechnie Jess.

The political earthquake that struck during this year’s snap General Election – an earthquake that deprived the government of the day of its majority and now means that just 384 votes separate the SNP and Labour in the Inverclyde constituency.

For many in the community, however, especially those who depend on local services, there has been one constant throughout the year — cuts.

Services lost and centralised, vacancies going unfilled and an intense pressure on public sector workers to do more with less.

It is a theme I have returned to time and again in my regular Tele columns and I fully expect to return to in the weeks and months ahead.

The SNP government in Edinburgh is the principal funder of local government in Scotland and on budget day I joined council leader, Stephen McCabe, and trade unionists from across Scotland to demand that the government gave Scotland’s councils a fairer deal.

When Derek Mackay presented the Scottish budget he had the opportunity to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to properly invest in local services. It was an opportunity he refused to take.

Experts at the respected Fraser of Allander Institute and the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre are warning that councils face another year of real terms cuts and they face those cuts at a time when demand for services is rising.

Inverclyde Council alone faces a £10 million black-hole. Enough is enough.

Cuts to councils are cuts to communities and communities like Inverclyde have already endured hardship and austerity for too long. Inverclyde deserves better in 2018.