SINCE being elected, I am proud of what I and my Scottish Conservative and Unionists colleagues have achieved.

We have helped deliver £35m per year more for police and fire services, correcting the SNP's VAT mess; increased the block grant; got whisky duty frozen for two years running, directly benefitting many workers and companies in Ochil & South Perthshire; secured the Clackmannanshire city deal, and delivered meaningful tax cuts for the lowest income earners by raising the tax threshold to £11,850.

Scotland’s budget will soon be set, and in spite of the £950m (2018-21) increase in block grant from Westminster, as a result of much of the progress outlined above, we are still facing cuts to our local council budgets that will have a real impact on our local public services. This is unacceptable.

In Clackmannanshire, we are facing the prospect of cuts to frontline services with services from grass cutting and school teaching hours being cut, to the Alloa Leisure Bowl potentially being closed. Last month I sent a letter to Derek MacKay MSP, the finance secretary at Holyrood, in which I highlighted that the Scottish block grant has gone up by £949m since 2010, and called on Mr MacKay to pass on this increase to local authorities.

I do not believe that Scotland’s smallest county should be “short-changed” when it comes to Scotland’s budget. Although we have seen some additional funding come to Clackmannanshire since then, I will be keeping up the pressure on the council to ensure it is spent on the most vital frontline services in Clackmannanshire.

Meanwhile, on the national stage, we are entering the next round of Brexit negotiations and the coming weeks will be testing for government, MPs and EU governments.

Although it may feel like Groundhog Day in the press, you can see the movement in parliament and in the EU, while the desire for a deal on all sides is clear. To that end, I have been working with colleagues, from across the Brexit spectrum, to try to find a solution that works for everyone in the UK.

I have therefore put together a ‘Customs Co-operation’ proposal and presented it to the government for consideration. My proposal seeks to combine the close working relationships, already in the existing agreement, on security, rights, data and mutual recognition of professional qualifications – among others – with what I hope is a workable solution to the Northern Ireland border issue, using existing technologies and systems to ensure that we can still have a close working and trading relationship, while leaving us free to arrange trade deals with economies and countries right around the world.

It is just one of a number of proposals being considered, but it is clear from speaking to my constituents that they are looking for a resolution to Brexit, and I hope that my proposal will be considered by the government in that light.

As always, if you have any issues or concerns, please contact me at my office on 38 Primrose Street, Alloa, by phone on 01259 764407, or by email at