THIS week's Councillor Column is written by Iain Shonny Paterson (SNP, Lomond North).

* * * * * * * * * *

WE have just come through the Scottish Parliament elections, and it was great to see the engagement people had with this election, and that so many came out to vote; it is very important that we engage with the process.

We are very fortunate to be able to have the freedoms we have and that everyone has the right to vote from 16 onwards in Scotland. It is especially heartwarming seeing so many of our young people becoming politically aware.

I would like to congratulate Jackie Baillie on her re-election - though I of course was disappointed that my favoured candidate, Toni Giugliano, was not successful, despite delivering an energetic and spirited campaign.

It was a strange time with Covid restrictions still in place, but it was nice to engage with the electorate in various parts of my ward, when restrictions did allow, listening to people’s views and concerns whether or not they were for or against the candidate I was representing.

We all have our own opinions on things. People and their views should be treated with respect, no matter your political persuasion.

READ MORE: Opinion - 'Recovery from Covid - and for our local hospital - is number one priority'

Of course it is nice to get what you vote for but this is not always the case in Scotland, where we have had plenty of UK governments we never voted for.

We have also been denied the things we have voted for, the referendum on the European Union being a case in point, and the resulting devastating impact that is having within our communities, be it from a social aspect or a business one.

We are starting to see these damaging effects already in Scotland, with the economy of Argyll and Bute being hugely affected. We have an ageing and dwindling population, and with our enforced withdrawal from the European Union resulting in the end of freedom of movement, which will have a huge impact on our fishing, aquaculture, farming, tourism, and especially social care and NHS. This is especially galling when you consider that 62 per cent of the people of Scotland voted to remain.

* * * * * *

I ALSO have to pay tribute to the Arrochar and Tarbet Community Development Trust, and the Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs on their ‘Two Lochs’ visitor management project, which has engaged in discussions with business groups in the area, identifying what our community needs, resulting in funding from the Better Places green recovery fund from NatureScot.

This is going to provide temporary toilets at the edge of the Cobbler car park, along with a seasonal visitor service warden and a six-month A82 layby litter bin project from Arden to Tarbet. This is being done with support from Argyll and Bute Council and the National Park Authority, which I fully supported by engaging with officers to help facilitate the project, stating the benefits to our environment, and community that will result from their engagement and support.

We have fantastic people who are mostly volunteers in our communities who deserve to be recognised for what they do, so to them I say thank you.