Since the last time I wrote a column there has been a by-election in the Clacks Central council ward. First, I would like to congratulate Jane McTaggart on being elected the new councillor for the ward and wish her all the very best for her term in office. What was also an interesting take-away from the by-election was that the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party increased its vote share by over three percent, while Labour’s plummeted by 8 percent.

This isn’t just a reflection of the excellent campaign run by William Marlin and his team, but clearly shows that here is Ochil and South Perthshire, only the Scottish Conservative and Unionists are able to stand up to and beat the SNP.

After twenty years of devolution, twelve years of which have been under the SNP, and more funding than ever before, our education standards have plummeted, our life expectancy is the lowest in the UK and our economy still lags behind the rest of the UK as well. The SNP’s obsession with separation has seen them take their eye of our frontline services, and it is the people of Scotland who have suffered for their negligence.

Meanwhile in Clackmannanshire, we see the SNP council administration continually playing pathetic party-political games in their handling of the Clacks Commission, set up to handle the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Deal funding. Nearly a year after the City Deal was signed off they have consistently blocked progress with their obstructive attitude.

At every stage I have reached out to try to ensure they were included in the process, but I’ve been met with nothing but resistance. While the council officials are working hard, it is the SNP creating friction. By their own actions, it is clear the SNP would rather play politics with the lives and jobs of the people of Clackmannanshire, than see UK Government money and investment come to Clackmannanshire.

None of this criticism of the SNP is to do Scotland down. Quite the opposite; I believe we can do much better. With such a poor approach and performance from the SNP in office, whether in Holyrood or Kilncraigs, it is ever more important that they are defeated in debate and at the ballot box at every opportunity. By contrast, since being elected in 2017 my Scottish Conservative colleagues and I have helped to secure the £35m annual VAT relief for the Fire and Police services in Scotland, a £950m increase in Scotland’s budget block grant, a duty freeze for our important whisky industry, brought reforms to Universal Credit and the £90m Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Deal, bringing significant investment directly to Clackmannanshire.

Furthermore, my team and I have been working hard locally too, holding over 270 surgeries – averaging more than 12 a month - while helping thousands of constituents with issues from anti-social behaviour, to the refurbishment and maintenance of Tron Court, and the restoration of CCTV in Clackmannan. I’ve supported local businesses, projects and charities such as the Japanese Gardens and Hawkhill Community Centre, established bodies such as the Universal Credit Action group and Clackmannanshire Investment Forum to help deliver better services and investment in the region, and helped secure over £20k in funding for local community groups, such as the Sauchie Community Group.

Working hard locally and nationally is what I believe shows how and why we can do better than what the SNP have served up for Scotland over the last twelve years. Less grand-standing, less grievance, more on constructive working - I will continue to stand up to the SNP and argue that we can and must do better, while showing how we can deliver for everyone in Clackmannanshire and across Ochil and South Perthshire.

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