The nights are fair drawing in and I, for one, can’t wait as that always signals the start of a series of excellent events across Renfrewshire.

In Paisley, fuelled by the thrill of the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021, we’ve hosted The Spree festival, an extravaganza of music, art and comedy, closely followed by the Hallowe’en parade and fireworks spectacular.

A phenomenal 60,000 people have been captivated by these events and that’s just the beginning, as this weekend signals the first of a trio of Christmas lights switch-on celebrations.

Paisley gets the ball rolling on Saturday before passing the baton onto Renfrew, from noon until 5pm on Saturday, November 25, and Johnstone, from noon until 5pm on Saturday, December 2.

I love the family feel at these special occasions as communities in every local town and village come out in huge numbers to celebrate together.

Music, funfairs, reindeers, a certain jolly bloke in a red suit, not forgetting the moment of illumination – what more could we ask for?

Winter weather

When a gritter goes past our window, it’s a surefire sign that winter weather is upon us.

Council gritting teams are already out and about to combat the freezing conditions. Throughout the winter period, some 800km of road and 1,200km of pavement will be treated.

There are plenty of practical steps we can all take well before any cold snap to get ready for winter.

These include packing an emergency kit for the car, speaking to your doctor to see if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine and preventing your pipes from freezing by keeping your heating on at a low temperature.

Check in on elderly friends in your community and help out where you can, bringing them shopping or clearing paths and driveways.

There is lots more ‘winter ready’ information for communities and businesses online at

Here for you

Every year, there are around three million calls, emails, social media posts and visits to Renfrewshire contact centres.

I know that local authorities have to make difficult decisions to manage our finances – decisions which won’t please everyone – but please be assured that, in every decision we take, our residents and our customers are our priority.

How we approach delivering services to you has been set out in a new five-year customer strategy.

Customer consultation played a hugely important role in its creation and we have listened to your desire for increased online access to services, while recognising that face-to-face visits and phone calls remain vital methods of communication.

We are committed to developing innovative ways of working, tailored to meet your needs, and want to make our services simple and effective from first contact to successful resolution.