I want to take the opportunity to look back at the past year since I became council leader.

One of our biggest achievements was unanimous approval of our new Council Plan. This tells you what our priorities are and what we will spend your money on.

I also have to mention our special educational needs and disabilities improvement journey. In the past year we have invested over £350,000 in new staff and training. We launched the preparing for adulthood roadshow, which was attended by more than 340 people.

We agreed the site for the borough’s new autism free school and investment into a new social, emotional and mental health school. And we secured £4 million investment into two further schools all providing more places for our children and improving SEND services.

We know there is still more to do and we are committed to making further improvements. 

We also had more than 350 responses to the draft annual budget. This is the most we’ve ever had. We listened to what you said and made changes to our spending plans.

Budget is an area that has proved a real challenge. Prices and demand for our services are always going up.

We had to spend more on social care than we thought and didn’t generate the income through planning we had expected, resulting in an overspend of around £1.3million.

We can’t overspend every year, so we have to make sure we balance the budget next year. This will be a big focus for us in the next 12 months.

We have more exciting projects lined up for the next year. These include new affordable homes for local people, new community hubs and much improved and extended youth provision, as per our promise. I will keep you updated with successes and setbacks.