A time to reflect — and look forward

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‘One of the things I enjoy looking out for in The Extra is the regular archive photograph of times past in East Renfrewshire. Sometimes, I imagine that I can just about remember the scene!

This is the season when we do tend to think back to how things were. Certainly as a young boy growing up in Newton Mearns, I am convinced it used to snow regularly and especially at Christmas.

And today when it does, just as then and indeed 80 years ago when my father was a boy, families enjoy themselves as we did sledging down the hill at Cathcart Castle Golf Club. Most manage to pull up before the burn, but not always!Back in the 60s local shops thrived. There were no major shopping centres and with fewer cars many more depended on the shops on their doorstep. And although we probably all enjoy and benefit from modern shopping options we should not lose sight of the value of quality, independent local stores.

That’s why I am delighted to support the Extra’s campaign to ‘Shop Local’. In the run up to Christmas take the time to check out the excellent delis, butchers and the host of other shops which are presently open and awaiting a visit.

The New Year sees the re-launch of Clarkston BID and I wish the Committee well. Clarkston suffered from the badly handled review of local parking restrictions and it is important for these businesses and the local community the re-launch is a success.

It goes without saying that 2014 has been an eventful year; at its heart, the spectacular Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the historic referendum in September decisively won by those who support Scotland being at the heart of the United Kingdom.

One legacy of that vote on which all parties are agreed is the contribution made by 16 and 17 year olds who voted for the first time.

Any doubts I had were laid to rest by the thousands of younger voters I met, the debates they participated in and the questions they asked. So I am delighted that the Prime Minister has agreed to facilitate early legislation so that 16 and 17 year olds will be able to vote in the Scottish elections in May 2016.

Next May we will vote for a new parliament at Westminster. It will probably be the shortest campaign of my lifetime, shorter even than the eight months which 
separated the two General Elections of 1974. Short maybe, but vital.

At Westminster it will be a simple choice — David Cameron or Ed Milliband; continuing economic recovery with UK growth the fastest of the developed nations or back to the reckless spending which left Britain under Labour more or less bankrupt.

However, that’s all for next year. Meantime, enjoy a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.’