IT is interesting when you ask someone how they like their home they will often tell you about the things they don't like, even though they are really very happy there. It is a bit cold, the garden could be bigger, and the living room needs updating. It's the same with the council.
Ask people in the street what they think of their council and you'll typically hear what they don't like. Dig a little deeper however and they'll admit that their schools are good, our libraries are great, the bin collection is very efficient and our home care workers do a fantastic job.
It has been quite revealing to look through the results of the council's new telephone survey with residents and see that the vast majority of local people are satisfied with the main services provided by the council.
This was always my impression from speaking to people across West Dunbartonshire but until you see it in black and white it is hard to know for sure.
It also reaffirms my opinion that this council is doing a good job and it is our role as Councillors to ensure that continues and that we improve to be the best we can.
I'm also very pleased with the achievements the Labour Administration recorded in its first year in charge of the council.
We've helped more than 500 people into employment and hired more than 170 Modern Apprentices on improved wages to get a start on the career ladder. We've given nearly 200 local businesses start-up assistance, supported 164 businesses with vital grant funding and helped train 250 local business employees. Incidentally West Dunbartonshire has 31,000 people in work which is more than Inverclyde with 29,300, East Dunbartonshire with 22,600, or East Renfrewshire with 18,200. Our success in securing another �933,000 from the Scottish Government will support a further 290 jobs.
We've also invested in new schools and an EEC centre to improve learning for nearly 1,500 of our local children, and doubled the school clothing grant for 4,500 children giving an extra �50 to our hardest pressed families.
We have protected tenants by retaining all Council homes and are now improving 10,500 properties for our current and future tenants, and given a pledge not to evict tenants in rent arrears if they have a modest payment plan in place.
We have committed more than �3.5m to pull down unwanted tower blocks and terraces that have blighted communities across West Dunbartonshire for years, and are building the first new Council care homes in decades to give 180 of our most vulnerable residents comfortable and dignified accommodation. We've also balanced the Council's budget in tough times and protected our 6,000 workforce from compulsory redundancies. It is quite a list and I hope you'll agree that we have got this Council moving forward.
And in case you are thinking 'well he would say that wouldn't he' it is also worth pointing out the opinion of the independent auditors who recently reviewed the Council on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Their annual report is a bit like the Council sitting an exam and I'm delighted to say they concluded that the Council was making 'good progress and demonstrating its commitment to continuous improvement'.
The report also helpfully highlights those areas where there is still work to do, and the Labour Administration and senior Council officers will be ensuring that we deal with these quickly so that the Council continues to improve in the coming years. We have high aspirations and want to see them met.