LAST week the SNP revealed their budget for all devolved spending, this includes the proposed allocation of funds for education, health, transport and local government.

In spite of £949m real terms increase in funding from Westminster since 2010 (source: SPICe), the SNP are once again proposing significant cuts to local government, including cutting £237m from core local government funding (source: COSLA).

This will again result in Clackmannanshire having to pick up the slack putting even more pressure on our public services.

This is in addition to the cuts to education, community support, road maintenance and general up keep in the county. I always understand the need to balance the books, but with more money coming from Westminster than ever before, I struggle to understand why the SNP are not putting the extra cash into our front-line services, this has also been the case for the past 2 years with underspends by Edinburgh holding back cash when our communities need that money today.

These underspends and diverting of funds away from local services and into state building is cynical, overtly political and is certainly not standing up for Clackmannanshire.

My Conservative & Unionist colleagues and I will continue to oppose these cuts, and fight for Clacks to secure more funding and investment. Since being elected 18 months ago, my colleagues and I secured a change in regulations to allow Police & Fire Scotland to get their VAT back after the SNP's centralising programme, bringing an extra £35m per year to two of our key services.

We have also secured a second-year freeze on spirit duty, helping whisky distillers and the large local employer Diageo stay competitive in the UK and global market.

In the recent budget, we successfully lobbied for an expansion of the British Business Bank to make more funding available to our small and medium size companies and negotiated hundreds of millions of pounds of City Deal funding (now in excess of £1bn for Scotland).

I understand the concerns about international affairs, but over the budgets where we have control, we should be delivering for our constituents – Westminster is playing its part, now Holyrood must play its role and step up.

In the past few weeks I have been lucky enough to visit a number modern studies classes at Lornshill and Alloa Academies to discuss local and national politics, as well as help answer questions for their coursework essays.

These school Q&As are one of the most enjoyable parts of my job, and I'm always impressed with the level of engagement, insight and energy that is demonstrated by each class.

This update wouldn't be complete without me covering Brexit. for those who were able to make my public meetings on Brexit a couple of weeks ago will know that I am working to avoid a "no deal" outcome.

I was elected on a manifesto pledge to leave the EU. However, I believe the best way to do this is through a deal that protects trade and keeps the UK and EU cooperating on security, science and education.

Although Parliament is now on recess, our work will not stop, and I will be speaking to colleagues during the Christmas break to further develop plans and ideas ready for our return in the New Year.

At this time of year, many in our community suffer from loneliness. If you find yourself struggling over the Christmas period, the Samaritans are open 24hrs a day, and can be contacted on 116 123.

I wish you and your family a merry Christmas and best wishes for 2019.