THIS week is one of the most important in the calendar each year as we remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Armistice Day is on Saturday and there will be nationwide commemorations, including a national two-minute silence at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month.

On Sunday, there will be traditional services in Greenock, Port Glasgow, Gourock, Kilmacolm, Inverkip and Wemyss Bay.

National and local monuments are also being lit red this week, including our own Shipbuilders of Port Glasgow sculpture, Ginger the Horse and the Free French Memorial, and we are encouraged to wear a poppy to remember those brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure we have the freedoms that we all enjoy today.

Remembrance commemorations this year are perhaps more poignant given the events we’re witnessing in Gaza and Israel, as well as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and in other parts of the world.

Remembrance is primarily our collective opportunity to pay tribute to the fallen. It is also an opportunity to pray for peace in other parts of the world.

This weekend, let’s remember and say thanks to the brave men and women of our own Armed Forces for their sacrifices and ongoing efforts to keep us safe. Lest we forget.

Pay offer

It seems an end to the pay dispute involving school staff is in sight. This will come as a relief to parents and council staff.

Unison have suspended planned strike action and are putting the latest offer from employers to members and recommending that they accept. The GMB and Unite trade unions had already accepted the previous pay offer before the latest round of strike action.

While the final decision ultimately lies with Unison members, it does look like the dispute is coming to a conclusion.

For parents, it will hopefully mean no more disruption to their child’s education and for staff right across the council it should mean a pay rise hopefully in time for Christmas and as winter really starts to kick in.

While councils are the employers, every year we have to go to the Scottish Government for extra funding as they don't provide it in our original grant settlements. This has to stop. Councils need to be properly funded in the first place so we can try to reach agreement with our unions before the start of the pay year in April rather than in November or even later.

Shop local

We are often told how important small businesses are for the economy and that is absolutely the case and something worth bearing in mind as we enter the run-up to Christmas.

‘Shop local’ is as important now more than ever in the face of the cost-of-living crisis and prevalence of online shopping. Our local businesses need our support.

I’m delighted that the council is leading the way on that front by spending almost £25 million with local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) during the 2022/23 financial year.

That is an increase of nearly £5m on the previous year as detailed in the council’s annual procurement report and represented a quarter of the total procurement spend.

This is money spent directly with local businesses and third sector organisations on a variety of goods, services and work. This is a ringing endorsement for the many great local businesses we have and also supports many jobs. Shop local if you can.