It’s so great to see the nights getting lighter again.

I know winter isn’t quite over yet but I feel like it went extremely fast this year.

Let’s start with a good news story: last week the council decided to boost the annual Christmas Lights Switch On Festival, a major event in Helensburgh, marking the start of the festive season, with a beneficial share of funding from the council’s Strategic Events and Festivals fund.

The event will benefit from £5,000, which I know will be welcomed by all in the town.

It is important to try and preserve these community events that bring joy to the locals because it could be all someone needs in a tough time to cheer them up. These events always bring people together and put a smile on everyone’s faces.

On a slightly less cheery note, the council will be setting its budget on February 22.

This year has been a tough one, as a lack of funding from the Scottish Government leaves us in a very sticky situation in regards to protecting the services that our constituents need.

We are in a very fortunate position to have Helensburgh councillor Gary Mulvaney, my Conservative colleague, as our policy lead for finance. He has been working extremely hard with officers to bring us all the options and routes we could take to make up the shortfalls that the government leaves us with.

It’s been a challenging few months, as absolutely no-one wants to see council tax rises, services cut or resources pulled.

Hopefully tough decisions made in the budget this year will protect the council from future hardship.

The administration's budget will be set responsibly, with our communities best interest at heart, taking into consideration not only this year but the following years as well. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to make throw away promises and irresponsible pledges like the opposition are.

Let’s try and sign off on a brighter note, though. 

I absolutely love Helensburgh for the simple reason that when the town needs something people rally round and come together. It’s what makes a community.

Although I couldn’t attend the Tower Community Engagement day, due to work commitments, I was delighted to hear of the support they received. The Tower is a wonderful venue with so much to offer now and in the future and it would be such a shame to lose it.

So let’s keep supporting them and hopefully the future is bright for the Tower.