Looking back

As 2015 fades into the memory, this is an opportunity to reflect on my first months as your MP and to look forward.

The strong sense of community, and people working together to improve their community or for others less fortunate is one of the things that makes this a great place to live and work.

I am privileged to meet many people, visit many organisations, and hear your priorities, issues, and concerns. If you would like me to visit an organisation, get in touch. I will be happy to do so if I can.

I have been encouraged by visits to local schools and contact with local young people.

They are a real credit to their families.

It was fantastic to be at a recent fundraising event where Barrhead High pupils represented themselves so professionally and with such maturity.

My visit to Springhill and Auchenback Primary to face questions from pupils about democracy was also great. Some of these pupils could have a glittering career as political interviewers.

They were thoughtful, courteous, and very clever.

All across our area, people are working to make things happen.

At last, through community effort, Neilston has a fitting War Memorial.

It has also been titled Scotland’s first cycle-friendly community after great efforts by local groups.

Uplawmoor is a strong community where people roll up their sleeves to get things done.

I know there are plans for local shop provision, and I wish them every success with this initiative.

In Barrhead, plans for business improvement continue apace following the great news that Barrhead was designated ‘Scotland’s Most Improved Small or Medium-sized Town’.

This is really well deserved, and I hope it is a catalyst for many more developments in Barrhead and surrounding area.

I am delighted that pupils, staff, and parents of Barrhead High have seen their patience rewarded by the news work on a replacement school has been given the go-ahead.

I know just how welcome this good news is.

Surgery Dates

My surgery appointments have been very busy, and I have been amazed at the number of contacts made by social media, by letter, and by email. Hopefully, my staff team and I are getting on top of the range of issues that are thrown up every day.

Because of its importance, I am starting 2016 with a ‘Welfare Surgery’ in Barrhead Foundry in cooperation with Stewart Maxwell MSP.

I am grateful for the support this is receiving from local agencies, including JobCentre Plus, East Renfrewshire Money Advice & Rights Team, East Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau and Back to School Bank.

With representatives from all these agencies, we will be able to respond to the widest range of queries. The surgery takes place on Friday from 3pm to 4.30pm.

This is a great example of people working together to provide the information and support people need as they grapple with an increasingly challenging welfare system.

Please drop in even if your issue is not welfare related or you just want to pick up information.

My very best wishes to all for a happy and healthy 2016.