Recent events have made me think again about what is really important to people.

The pandemic has made us all increasingly aware of our vulnerability as individuals and as a society. It has also made us work more collectively for the common good. We can think of a vaccine as a metaphor for that solidarity.

A vaccine is designed to protect us all when we all participate in its benefits. It is a public good, not a private one. When 80-90 per cent of people are vaccinated, we all benefit from what is better called community immunity.

And so it is with other goods which are public, not private. Like education. When some are educated but others are not, our society gets sick. We see poverty and inequality.

Clydebank Central, my ward, is the sixth most deprived ward in all of Scotland. The pandemic has only made this worse.

The pandemic has highlighted the inequalities in our society. The Accounts Commission report published recently confirms this. And we don’t just have a poverty-related attainment gap in education.

Poverty and inequality affects kids all over West Dunbartonshire from the moment they are born, much more than those in East Dunbartonshire.

To address this, I will bring a motion to council on Wednesday asking the Scottish Government to base additional funding for education on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD).

This would mean that schools in deprived areas would get significantly more funding than equivalent schools in more affluent areas. It is an important principle that will address inequality at source.

The Accounts Commission recommends that the Scottish Government should give councils a financial settlement over several years in order to plan our recovery.

Councils have been on the frontline in this pandemic and will remain on the frontline through the recovery. We need financial certainty over at least three years to do this. We need fair funding based on need, not just head counts.

West Dunbartonshire is regenerating, and we need support from Government to attract large employers to the area. We need a new deal, like we had in the 1980s, to provide employers with business tax incentives to set up here rather than elsewhere.

For example, there is an ambitious proposal to bring modern shipbuilding back to the Clyde at the Scottish Marine Technology Park (SMTP) in Old Kilpatrick. I welcomed the decision to seek UK Government funding for Dumbarton town centre. But the SMTP is the next project on the list for future council bids to the Levelling Up Fund.

I hope that it succeeds and that we succeed in achieving a fairer and more prosperous West Dunbartonshire.