OUR latest Community Column is written by Conservative candidate for the Dumbarton constituency, Maurice Corry.

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THE last couple of weeks in the Scottish Parliament have been turbulent to say the least, with inquiries ongoing and the disastrous Hate Crime Bill being considered by MSPs.

The examples of hate crime the Justice Secretary provided for that this Bill would protect were already protected by law. This is simply going to incriminate more people and restrict freedom of speech.

The SNP government constantly mentions the European Union and criticises standards being potentially lowered.

Yet, ironically, it appears this new Bill may contravene the EU, which says: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression.

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"This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.”

The SNP government are eroding these basic human rights from us.

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BEFORE I decided to stand for the Scottish Parliament in 2016, I set out some targets I wanted to achieve.

These were predominately based on local or national issues that were needed locally.

Being a veteran, I have long held a keen interest in the armed forces and veterans within the area, and across Scotland. It felt only right that the large presence at HM Naval Base Clyde, along with the proposed expansion of the base, ensured services in the area were enhanced for the community to benefit from.

The Vale of Leven Hospital has always been dear to my heart, along with most of the community. My four children were born there, for a start. It has been disheartening to me watching local families having to go to the Royal Alexandra Hospital for the birth of their children, so I have been pushing to encourage more births at the Vale of Leven.

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As many Advertiser readers will be aware, I have also believed, since before the 2016 election, that better mental health services were required in our area, and that I would campaign for the Vale to host improved mental health services if elected.

Although the coronavirus pandemic postponed the opening of this service, I am thrilled to say it opened on December 22. Many patients have used this service already at no cost to the NHS.

I have worked with the NHS and the Defence Medical Welfare Service to establish this vital health care resource for our community. It is from partnerships like this that we can achieve results and benefit all of us from working together.