Well, after almost a month of having Covid and post-Covid symptoms I’m delighted to be able to say I’m on the mend and back in the proverbial ‘saddle’.

It’s been almost three years since the first pandemic struck and so much has changed since then. And speaking of change, one of the things that I’m delighted to see is some amazing community engagement taking place across various parts of Lomond North.

In Cove and Kilcreggan, a community focused programme of consultation has just started almost 12 months after I helped to source £171,000 of funding. The Our Community project is being run by Cove and Kilcreggan Community Council and the Rosneath Peninsula West Community Development Trust and is a three-year programme of community engagement, discussion, surveys and planning that will hopefully lead to further funding for the projects that are identified as being important to the residents of Cove and Kilcreggan. The money allows the project team to bring in external consultants and resources to supplement their own work in the local area and engage with experts who can help create community-led proposals that can be taken forward for regional and national funding.

A similar engagement process has been underway for a few months in Luss, Arrochar, and the surrounding villages, thanks to extensive funding from Luss Estates and The National Park. The response has been incredible and the feedback and data that gathered are already feeding into two Local Place Plans which will help shape the future development and sustainability of those communities.

The idea behind Local Place Plans is to create a community-led vision, through engagement, to ensure that future development and use of land meets with the aspirations of any given community. Sitting alongside the council’s own Local Development Plan (LDP) Local Place Plans could play a vital role in the future of our villages and towns. If any local group wants advice on Local Place Plans please let me know.

We sometimes forget how important ‘community’ is and we seldom see, or appreciate, the huge amount of thankless, but important work that goes on in our villages and towns by the many volunteers who are willing to give up their time and energy to improve things for everyone. Since being elected in May last year I have been amazed at just how many organisations, volunteers, community groups and dedicated individuals there are, right the way across Lomond North and Helensburgh.

I would like to thank every one of you, especially those in Cove and Kilcreggan working tirelessly on the Our Community initiative. Thank you all.