AS THE chaos of Brexit unfolds and we hurtle towards a no deal cliff-edge, the Tories will do anything to deflect the reality of the position we face, but Luke Graham’s attempt at diversion in his column last week really takes the biscuit.

His lack of knowledge about the local area is completely understandable and I am more than happy to fill him in on what the SNP has delivered for our local communities.

In recent years, Clackmannanshire has received investment from the Scottish Government which includes the re-opening of the railway - a project I initiated as leader of the Council; the Clackmannanshire Bridge; £9.6 million for three new primary schools; a £4 million grant for the Glassworks; over £16 million to improve energy efficiency in local homes; £2 million to revamp Alloa Town Centre; £2 million for the Clackmannan Regeneration project – and all that is before we mention the £17 million over the next three years for affordable housing or the additional £3 million our schools will receive every year of this Parliament to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap.

The UK Tory Government's impact in Clackmannanshire since 2010 is also there for all to see – 27% of our children now live in poverty; we have some of the highest levels of benefit sanctions in the country; the establishment of foodbanks; the early implementation of Universal Credit which has caused untold misery and stress for some of our most vulnerable citizens, applications for Crisis Grants have soared, and not to mention that 9 out of 10 Universal Credit recipients in Clackmannanshire now have rent arearrs.

Just last week, I held a summit on Universal Credit to assess its impact on the local area, and every single participant gave evidence that demonstrates just how this policy does not work. Mr Graham is an enthusiastic cheerleader for the catastrophically failing Universal Credit rollout and it says it all about his grasp on reality that he thinks this disastrous policy is making a positive difference to the constituents he is supposed to represent.

Last Tuesday the Scottish Government published the Programme for Government, setting out the actions they will take in the forthcoming year. These ambitious proposals include a major reform of mental health services, investment in infrastructure and legislation to underpin a Scottish National Investment Bank, as well as significant

investment in schools, hospitals and public services.

The positive response from civic Scotland, charities, the university sector, environmental groups, young people, business organisations and many others demonstrates the confidence in the SNP to deliver for Scotland - focusing on delivering for today and investing for tomorrow.