New First Minister

I congratulate John Swinney on his appointment as Scotland’s seventh First Minister and the third of this Scottish Parliament.

John has served a long apprenticeship waiting for the top job and he is arguably better prepared than all of his predecessors to take on this crucial role.

I worked closely with John when I was the COSLA Children and Young People Spokesperson, particularly during the pandemic, and I genuinely wish him well.

I hope he will seek to repair the damage caused by Humza Yousaf to the relationship between local government and the Scottish Government and commit to no more centrally imposed regressive and financially irresponsible council tax freezes during his time as First Minister.

GP out-of-hours service

It was extremely disappointing that the health board last week took the decision to ignore the strength of feeling locally and chose to reduce the local GP out-of-hours service.

Despite widespread concerns, including from the council and more than 6,000 people who signed a petition against the proposals, a majority of board members who voted to permanently end the previous seven-day provision.

What it means is Inverclyde residents are now faced with a 50-mile round trip to the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) in Paisley (or indeed further afield to one of the other five remaining centres) if they require to see a doctor in the evening or overnight. Of the six centres in total, Inverclyde is the only area to lose a full-time GP out-of-hours service.

Like the council and most public services, the health board doesn’t have its financial challenges to seek due to a lack of funding and has to cut its cloth accordingly. I know how difficult that is. But this is just another example of services at Inverclyde Royal Hospital being sacrificed in favour of other sites and locations.

The health board cite low usage and lack of GPs to continue to staff a full service in Inverclyde, but we will never encourage usage or attract people to work in the area (never mind keep the talented staff we already have) if services and facilities are continually downgraded and people ushered to other sites.

With the many challenges we have here in Inverclyde, particularly with health and financial inequalities, reducing the GP out-of-hours service is completely unacceptable.

Pride of Inverclyde awards

Nominations are now being accepted for the Pride of Inverclyde Awards 2024.

These are the council’s staff awards to honour individual and teams across all services, including those delivered by the health and social care partnership (HSCP), who go beyond the call of duty to serve residents and communities throughout Inverclyde.

Staff can nominate colleagues and members of the public can also put forward an individual or team they think deserves special recognition.

Inverclyde is a caring and compassionate place and that shines through in the work of council staff who are delivering the highest standard of service possible while facing increasing pressures.

They do their best day in, day out to support residents and help make Inverclyde the best possible place to live, work, visit, and do business.

The Pride of Inverclyde awards are an opportunity to celebrate those dedicated and hard-working employees so if you have had exceptional service nominate an individual or team for an award.

You can nominate and find out more about the awards at

Nominations close on Friday May 24.

Gourock takes centre stage

It’s great to see Gourock taking centre-stage with the 2024 outdoor swimming season kicking off at Gourock Pool last Friday, and this weekend is the Gourock Highland Games on Sunday at Battery Park.

These are high-profile and eagerly anticipated annual events that help showcase Inverclyde as a great place to live, work, visit, and do business.