THE shocking statistics highlighting the extent of Bankies alcohol problems made very depressing reading in the Post last month. The damning report produced by the Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP), which gathered information from Police Scotland, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Strathclyde Fire Board, and council and national sources, showed a rise in drunken crime, anti-social behaviour and ill health.

This problem blights particular areas in Scotland and the Clydebank area statistics are far too high. It is to be hoped that the Scottish Government minimum alcohol pricing bill - hotly opposed by Unionist politicians at Holyrood - will go some way to alleviating this scourge which wrecks lives and communities.

Make no mistake, this is no magic bullet, but surely anything which may help to improve this dire situation is worth trying. I await the conclusion following the formal consultation from the report which will last three months.

On the bright side, a pioneering scheme to help get vulnerable 16-19 year-olds into employment has been hailed a success for 1800 young people. Last year, 70 per cent of the 2617 youngsters who took part in the Scottish Government Activity Agreements scheme are now employed, at college, or on training courses.

This is exactly the sort of support we should be giving our young people towards achieving a brighter future in these difficult economic times.

It was also good news that a new joint analysis of labour market trends says Scotland is outperforming the rest of the UK on employment and earnings.

The study, carried out by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC), shows that employment in Scotland is increasing for both men and women and that youth employment is also on the rise with the Scottish Government meeting its Modern Apprenticeship targets.

The analysis confirms changing work patterns, increasing self-employment and recent improvements to the decrease in full-time employment.

The study also shows that the decrease in real earnings across the UK is at a slower rate in Scotland.

Think about it, if we can do this well - or punch above our weight as Tory Leader David Cameron said this week - while we are part of the union and ruled by England, how much better will we do when we have full control over our affairs after independence? The only way to find out is to vote Yes on September 18 next year.

If you need to contact me on any issue, phone 952 9677, or email: gil.paterson.msp Or please drop in to any of my Friday surgeries.