THE council will set its budget for the coming financial year this week.

I would like to thank all the residents and staff who attended one of the consultation meetings or submitted their views through the website.

The administration published a draft budget in December, which I think has made this year's consultation more meaningful.

This is a new budget process, and I believe that, given the financial challenges ahead, it is the right way forward.

We have had ideas and opinions coming from members of the public about how to close the budget gap, and both myself and councillor Craig McLaughlin have also invited all councillors to engage with us, so that we can get the best ideas from all sides of the political divide.

We have offered to meet with all Independent, SSP and Labour councillors.

So far, only the Independent councillors have taken us up on this offer.

I am hopeful that the Labour group will also choose to engage with the administration so that, in these financially challenging times we can put political dogma aside and work for the good of our communities.

Potholes As the snow and ice melts away (for good I hope), the damage done to roads and pavements is clear for all to see.

Councillors are reporting where the trouble areas are in their wards, but you can help too.

If you see a pothole or a problem with a road or pavement, please call 01389 737000 and ask for Roads Maintenance.

The more information we have, the quicker we can make our roads and footways safer.

Supermarket tax Our Labour MSPs, Jackie Baillie and Des McNulty, really need to decide whether they support local businesses or large multi-national companies.

On the one hand, they vote down minimum pricing on alcohol, saying that all it would do is make bigger profits for supermarkets, ignoring the facts that apart from the obvious health benefits, it would create a more level playing field for small retailers who cannot afford to compete on price.

This month, they don't support a levy on big supermarkets that would raise over £30m for the Scottish budget.

It appears that if you are a multi-national retailer, you can have your cake and eat it.