The January cold snap has highlighted the commitment and dedication of council workers and I fully appreciate the important role they play in maintaining essential services across our Renfrewshire communities.

I also understand the frustration residents can feel if their bin isn’t collected or their pavement hasn’t been gritted.

We will be investing further in our frontline resources to ensure we are able to deliver services we can all be proud of.

We are listening to what matters most to you and, in the years ahead, we will be doing all we can to involve you and empower you to shape your communities.

That might be securing funding for an important community project or even the transfer of land and facilities into community ownership.

Plans are in place to regenerate and strengthen our town centres and, already this year, Johnstone has become the first of three places to benefit from free public wifi, with Renfrew and Paisley to follow soon.

The £1million project has launched on the streets surrounding Johnstone Town Hall and is also available in public buildings – including the library and the town hall – enabling people to tap into the free service, with no need to log in or register.

Research shows people are likely to spend more time in a town centre that offers free public wifi, which is good news for local businesses.

We know that more and more people are accessing our services online through ‘myaccount’ and we will continue to grow our digital services, whether that’s enabling you to check your rent account balance, make a payment or apply for a discount or exemption.

Crucially, the new wifi will help tackle the problem of digital exclusion. Many families on low income do not have an internet connection at home, missing out on the best deals on household gas and electricity and car insurance as a result.

And for people who may feel isolated, the chance to use free video calls to stay in touch with friends and family further afield will be another great benefit of the system.

On a different note, congratulations go to senior pupils in Renfrewshire’s secondary schools who are developing healthier school menus for their peers.

The Hearty Lives project, in partnership with local charity Active Communities, is boosting nutritional options, from swapping filled rolls to poached eggs at breakfast to running taster sessions that promote the new options.

Our schools are pioneering new ways of working which are making a real difference to people’s lives. This was highlighted last week when Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills John Swinney visited Our Lady of Peace Primary School, in Linwood, to hear about the Renfrewshire Literacy Approach.

The project, which provides specialist teacher training around reading, launched three years ago and has seen impressive improvements in primary pupils’ literacy attainment, particularly for children who have previously struggled with learning to read.

We are determined to give children in Renfrewshire the best start in life, regardless of their background, and these projects are testament to that ambitious approach.