The last couple of weeks have been a turbulent time in UK politics and I have been contacted by many, understandably frustrated, constituents regarding the conduct of the Prime Minister during lockdown.

I have been clear, the rules are in place for all of us to follow, whether you are in Number 10 or North Ayrshire.

However, it remains my view that regardless of these events it should not distract from the day to day issues affecting our community.

One of the most important responsibilities your local MSPs have is to do everything we can to channel prosperity and opportunity to the communities we represent.

I am acutely aware of the need for more high-paying jobs in North Ayrshire that utilise all the undoubted talent we have in our area.

In previous generations we were home to great traditional industries, like the steel mills of Dalry and Kilbirne.

And as technologies and industries change, we must make sure communities are best placed to take advantage of every possible opportunity that can comes our way.

This is a task that requires all of us to put forward our best collective efforts, regardless of any political or partisan differences that we may otherwise have.

This of course means I am delighted with the progress of the Ayrshire Growth Deal, a partnership between the UK and Scottish Governments working alongside local authority colleagues.

It will unlock £250 million of spending in order to stimulate growth and increase job opportunities.

Already one of Scotland’s most important areas for tourism and the marine sector, we have the chance to create thousands of new jobs in existing and emerging industries – from manufacturing all the way to aerospace.

I look forward to seeing the result of this investment in the years ahead.

In particular, I hope to see further investment in the energy sector locally.

I have a real concern about the future of jobs stemming from the decommissioning of the Hunterston power station, having raised this with the First Minister in the first FMQs of 2022.

It is imperative that we provide opportunities for the hundreds of hard-working Hunterston employees once the facility shuts its doors.

With that in mind, I am encouraged that North Ayrshire has been chosen as one of the five finalists to host a new prototype fusion power plant, as part of the UK Government’s STEP Programme which could create around 3,500 skilled jobs!

The SNP Government too, must turn their focus to our recovery instead of wasting taxpayers money drafting Indyref plans when they can’t even guarantee exams will go ahead in our schools.

The West Scotland Region is an area I am proud to represent in the Scottish Parliament.

It is rich with potential and will be an excellent home for the industries of the future.

I am in no doubt that local people are ready to take on that challenge and I will do everything in my power to advance our area’s economic recovery from the pandemic, as we build that better, more prosperous future for all.