by Provost William Hendrie

While most of us recharged our batteries over Christmas and New Year, I would like to extend my thanks to those who weren’t able to put their feet up: emergency service workers, hospital staff, retail staff and many other workers who, for a range of reasons, don’t get to take time off at Christmas.

I also hope that each of us managed to spread a little festive cheer by reaching out to neighbours or family members who may have been feeling lonely over the holidays. Those little gestures could really have made a big difference.

The year ahead is a big one on a local level, with many council staff moving to new locations in Dumbarton and Clydebank with the upcoming closure of our Garshake Road building and opening of the new office in Dumbarton town centre.

Before that, we have the matter of the 2018/19 budget.

The council will be presented the budget options on February 21, with the feedback gathered from the public consultation being used to help inform councillors’ decision. I would urge all residents of West Dunbartonshire to have their say on the budget options by using the online consultation process.

As always when a council is facing a budget shortfall, tough decisions will have to be taken. But we are determined to make the decisions that have the least impact on the services that matter most to you.

This year has been designated the Year of Young People, which aims to inspire Scotland through its young people, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contribution to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally.

In West Dunbartonshire, we always look to inspire and encourage young people. With new schools opening and a lot of effort put into the Active Schools programme, traditional education and sports are at the heart of what we do.

However, excellent work is also being done by organisations such as West Dunbartonshire Youth Alliance, which sets out to give every child the opportunity to learn new skills and discover a passion for things they might not otherwise have had the chance to experience.

I hope that in 2018, even more young people in West Dunbartonshire can be inspired to shine.