Our latest Councillor Column for the Advertiser is written by Gemma Penfold, Conservative councillor for Helensburgh and Lomond South.

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I CAN’T quite believe that the schools have been back for two weeks already!

The summer holidays have flown past in an instant. I would like to wish all students a wonderful year and I have my fingers and toes firmly crossed that this year will be as normal as it can be and uninterrupted by Covid. Our youngsters deserve some normality.

A huge congratulations to our secondary pupils who achieved incredible marks on their exams, outperforming national averages. This is wonderful news, especially after the year they have all had.

My congratulations extend to the teachers, parents and guardians who have helped the teens along the way towards these great grades.

If any of our youngsters out there didn’t get the grades they were expecting or had hoped for then I urge you not to be disappointed. Exam results do not define you and are certainly not the only option to get you to where you want to go.

READ MORE: Hermitage Academy's 2021 SQA pass rates revealed as Argyll and Bute school data is published

Use this as an opportunity to choose another exciting path and trust that it will be the right one for you. Please reach out to your school if you need advice or support.

As we start another school year, I would urge you to take a moment to speak with your children about the importance of using bins only for litter and definitely not to set fire to.

Unfortunately, a number of bins in and around the Helensburgh area have been set alight in the past and therefore removed, as they are now considered a fire hazard.

This, in turn, means that there are fewer places for general rubbish and more excuses for littering.

Littering does not only look bad but it causes a huge problem for the environment and the local wildlife and ecosystems. Please help tackle the issue by encouraging family, friends (and ourselves) to carry our rubbish with us until we can bin it safely.

Until next time, stay safe and do what makes you happy!

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