THE next council meeting will consider proposals for cuts to key services in West Dunbartonshire.

We are not alone in facing serious cuts - every council across Scotland is having to make difficult decisions.

But the package of cuts in education, in support for elderly people, and in other services could cause deep and lasting damage in this area.

Statistics show that Clydebank has a higher rate of unemployment and more poor pensioners than nearly any other area in the country.

Yet under the current SNP Government, money has been shifted from here in favour of places like Perth and Kinross and Aberdeenshire which are much more affluent.

The needs of the people of this area need to be considered. The abolition of the Fairer Scotland Fund, together with other sources of funding that were targeted at places like Clydebank, has been a cruel blow.

On top of that the Con Dem Government at Westminster is cutting benefits, including those for people with disabilities who are unable to work.

This week I visited Remploy Clydebank, along with my colleague Gemma Doyle MP, to talk to workers there who feel their jobs may be at risk.

Many other people in the public sector and in the private sector face uncertain job prospects in the new year. The regeneration of the town, which has been taken forward in recent years cannot be allowed to falter.

The money we have secured has laid the foundations for the rebirth of the waterfront.

It's time now to move forward not backwards. Council cuts, on top of cuts from the SNP Scottish government and the Con Dem government at Westminster, could put any progress in Clydebank in jeopardy.

That is why I will work hard, with Gemma Doyle MP and my Labour council colleagues to challenge decisions that are not in Clydebank's best interests.

We particularly need money for housing and regeneration. Clydebank's housing stock needs substantial investment.

It's been nearly four years since agreement was reached that Salisbury Place should be demolished. But the area has been left derelict.

There are many other areas in Clydebank that desperately need money spent on them.

The current government in Edinburgh seems unwilling to commit resources to a housing refurbishment and replacement programme, which is what we desperately need.

The reductions we have seen at national level in teacher numbers and the government's broken promises on class sizes are eroding the morale of teachers and the confidence of parents. It's time we put Scottish education back on track.

Labour did invest in new schools, with new secondary and primary schools in Clydebank being commissioned in the teeth of opposition from the SNP. Some of the benefits of that new investment could be lost if education budgets are squeezed further.

In this area we need to boost attainment, which means retaining experienced teachers and attracting newly qualified teachers to take up positions in our schools.

I want to see our children given the best start in life and the chance to make the best of their educational opportunities.

As we run up to the elections next May I will be bringing forward policies on education in my role as Labour's shadow education spokesman. My focus will be on Clydebank in particular however.

Whatever we do in education has to work for the young people of Clydebank.

And whatever we can deliver in any other policy area, whether its health or housing or employment, Clydebank must be at the forefront given the needs we face in this area.