The Scottish Parliamentary Elections are over for another five years and the party political street signs are finally down from the lamp posts.

Now that the dust has settled, I would like to take this opportunity of congratulating Marie McNair on her election success. Although we are, of course, from rival political parties, we remain good friends. I wish her good luck and every success over the next five years as she represents Clydebank and Milngavie. Best wishes Marie.

I wish to thank the electorate who voted for me and Scottish Labour. I was incredibly proud to secure 12,513 votes representing a 10 per cent increase for Scottish Labour in the share of the vote and our highest vote since 1999. I am honoured by your support.

I am, however, disappointed that in the end we fell short. But Scottish Labour has now almost halved the previous SNP majority and we can now build on this increase of support as we head towards next year’s council elections.

My congratulations to Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Jackie Baillie, who once again retained her seat for Labour in Dumbarton increasing her vote and majority significantly. Jackie is a wonderful, hardworking and well respected MSP and it comes as no surprise to me that she was successful again.

The combination of both results means Labour can look forward to next year’s elections with confidence as we build on our success. We shall continue to listen to the residents of West Dunbartonshire and reflect your concerns with our work at council.

There are certainly plenty of issues which need our immediate attention. I will redouble my efforts to represent the communities of Duntocher, Faifley and Hardgate to the best of my ability. West Dunbartonshire Council must now tackle the backlogs created across all departments as the result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

My immediate concern is the serious issues currently facing the education sector across Scotland. We are facing another exam crisis which is impacting tens of thousands of young people, their teachers and their families across Scotland.

The SNP’s insistence that there are no exams does a disservice to young people working day and night to sit examinations that have been set. It is clear that lessons from last year’s exams fiasco have not been learned and this year’s alternative assessment system has the potential to be more damaging than the one used last year for our children and young people across West Dunbartonshire.

I call upon the Scottish Government to stop the delay and publish the SQA appeals process, implement a re-sit guarantee for pupils and ensure that a no detriment policy for accessing further or higher education is put in place now. Our young people need hope after this dreadful year.

Our priority should be to rebuild opportunity for young Scots’ futures not another divisive independence referendum.