Let me be the very first person to wish you a merry Christmas. It is early, I know that, it is about three months too early, but I have my reasons. Every year I promise to do as much of my Christmas shopping as I can locally and every year I fail. Working away from home is an excuse, not a reason. I once did all my Christmas shopping on Christmas eve in Gatwick airport. Not this year. The local economy needs us all to spend our money locally. The Prime Minister once said “A pound spent in Croydon is of far more value to the country, from a strict utilitarian calculus, than a pound spent in Strathclyde”. He was of course totally wrong even though he was talking about the national economy. Locally a pound spent in Inverclyde is worth more than a pound spent in Glasgow or Edinburgh or China. There is the story of a tourist that pays a £100 deposit for a room, the hotelier pays a £100 bill at the butcher, the butcher pays £100 to the farmer, the farmer pays £100 to his feed supplier, the feed supplier pays £100 to the garage, the garage owner pays £100 bar bill at the hotel. The tourist returns and doesn’t want the room. The hotelier repays the £100 deposit. The economic argument is that nobody is any better off because they all got what they were owed which matched how much debt they had but the fact remains that the money spent locally stimulated the local economy and wiped off paper debts. Had anyone in the chain spent the £100 outside the town then the money would have been stimulating another local economy or one in another country. Keeping money in our local economy is great but there is an increased benefit when people from outside the area spend their money here. They are not exactly tourists, but you see the similarities. Understandably at these times money will be tight, but please whenever possible support our local economy and have a happy new year!