The sight of the Scottish Defence League on the streets of Alloa was a shameful betrayal by the tiny band of local thugs who invited them in. In contrast communities across Clacks should be proud of their response to the refugee crisis, welcoming families fleeing the most unimaginable suffering and heartbreak. Blaming the poverty in our own communities on those who have lost everything is a betrayal of our humanity and can only survive on ignorance.
It was with mixed emotions that I spoke up at the final Stirling Council meeting last week. I’m standing down as Councillor for Dunblane & Bridge of Allan in May to focus on my role as your regional Green MSP. But part of me will always feel rooted in the communities I’ve served as a councillor and the need to champion the local services that support us all.
That need to protect frontline council services was top priority for Green MSPs as we approached the recent budget negotiations at Holyrood.
This blog originally appeared in the Alloa Advertier's Political Stand column, published Wednesday 15th February
The news that Clackmannanshire Council is moving closer towards making 350 staff redundant is devastating.
For years local services have faced huge pressures as Westminster cuts to Scottish Government budgets have been handed down to councils. The Council Tax Freeze has then made it impossible for them to raise the income needed to protect frontline services from cuts.
We now know that the first shipment of shale gas produced by fracking is expected to arrive in Scotland very soon.
The sight of the so-called "dragon" fleet of ships docking in Scotland will no doubt get Ineos bosses pushing for fracking to begin in Scotland, but we are not going to allow that to happen. The Scottish Parliament reflected public concern that fracking offers too much risk for too little gain and the time for the Scottish Government to come off the fence has arrived.
It's great to be back in the Scottish Parliament again as your regional MSP after nine years away and I've enjoyed throwing myself into the work in these first few weeks. I even got my old office back at Holyrood and will be looking for a local office too in the weeks ahead.
I’m also continuing in my role as Councillor for Dunblane and Bridge of Allan until the next elections in May 2017, but will return my council salary which will hopefully go to a local charitable cause.