I WOULD like to begin my first Councillor Column of 2023 by wishing you all a very happy new year and I hope that 2023 will bring you and yours much success and joy.

Since I last had the pleasure to write to you through the pages of the Herald I have attended several meetings in the community and held numerous surgeries in both Saltcoats and Stevenston.

Firstly, at the end of October I had the pleasure of attending the official opening of Red Rose and Roslin House at the Lockhart Campus in Stevenston (pictured right). These state-of-the-art facilities are fantastic and offer great care and respite for both children and adults.

Both houses also have dedicated and hard-working staff who work tirelessly to care for the residents.

Then, at the beginning of November, I attended the Climate Change Town local planning meeting in Stevenston. This project is great as it allows the residents of Stevenston to tell the council what projects and types of facilities they want in the communities that they live in. I would urge anyone who is interested to get involved in this process in their locality.

Furthermore, over the Christmas period I also attended the switching-on of Stevenston’s Christmas lights, which was a fantastic night for the whole community. The switch-on was also a great tribute to the late Shirley Morgan, who would have been proud of the event itself and of the whole community of Stevenston. I would like to extend my congratulations to the Stevenston Christmas lights committee for a great night.

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the Saltcoats switch-on, but from what I heard afterwards, and the pictures I saw online and in the Herald, it looked like the committee planned an excellent night, and for that I also extend my congratulations to Alec, Elaine and all who sit on the committee.

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North Ayrshire Council, as I’m sure many Herald readers will know, will be looking to finalise its budget over the next few weeks, and will make its final decision on where and how to spend its money during the 2023-24 financial year when the full council meets on Wednesday, March 1.

I understand that there have been several news articles over the last few weeks highlighting areas where the council might look to reduce services, or to cut them altogether.

However, it is important to remember that these are only proposals at this stage and that these actions have not been agreed to yet. Some may not happen at all.

I have also recently attended the Three Towns budget consultation event in Saltcoats Town Hall which was a great opportunity for the people who live in our communities to give their opinion, to councillors and North Ayrshire officials, on where they wanted their money to be spent.

These events are fantastic and allow councillors to listen to what the people we represent see as a priority in their community, so that we can work to make sure that you are listened to.

As always it is a pleasure to represent Saltcoats and Stevenston and I look forward to working hard over the next few weeks and months as the budget process continues.