Our latest Community Column is written by Helensburgh and Lomond's constituency MSP, Labour's Jackie Baillie.

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As we look ahead to the elections, I know people across the country feel let down by public bodies not getting the basics right.

And while there are undoubtedly examples that we can all cite of poor services and poor planning, there are equally cases of heroic staff going the extra mile.

So let me start by thanking all public sector workers. Already this year, bin collections across the area have been dogged with problems due to sickness absences, leaving people worried about the impact on the wider environment. My office has been inundated with calls from concerned residents.

Everyone is sympathetic to the hard-working workforce who have been impacted by Covid – but, two years into the pandemic, there should have been resilience plans in place to cope.

A booster jab being administered.

A booster jab being administered.

We need to learn these lessons for the future as we learn to ‘live with Covid’.

Nowhere is the lack of learning more apparent than during the recent fourth booster shambles, which has seen people in Helensburgh aged 75 and over told to travel to the likes of Dunoon, Lochgilphead or Dalmally for vaccinations.

Many of the same people were given similar, inappropriate appointments dozens of miles away from home last autumn and are again affected.

In their attempt to fix the problem this year, people have received multiple letters for different appointment times, weeks apart. The vaccinators do a great job but are being let down by the administration of the vaccination programme. Why does it feel like people in Helensburgh and Lomond are being penalised?

Here is another example. Argyll and Bute Council’s ill-thought-out plans to cut head teacher numbers are a prime example of where the council is trying to make a policy for rural Argyll fit into communities like those in Helensburgh where it is not appropriate.

Argyll and Bute Councils plan to create school clusters with fewer head teacher roles has come in for criticism

Argyll and Bute Council's plan to create school clusters with fewer head teacher roles has come in for criticism

There is no evidence to suggest these proposals will improve attainment.

Indeed, Argyll and Bute Council needs to learn to listen to the people who are at the sharp end of these plans.

This principle also applies when looking at the plans to develop Kilcreggan Pier. The people who stay locally need to be informed. They need to be consulted as they are the ones who will live with the consequences if the wrong choice is made.

People in Helensburgh and Lomond value their surroundings and they welcome trade from visitors. The business community is determined to rebuild post-Covid but they need the council’s support.

On May 5, take your opportunity to elect Labour’s local champions who will put you, your family and your community first.