The last two weeks have been filled with the terrible news from Israel and Palestine. The horror of war is again upon the peoples in both these countries. Our hearts and solidarity go to those now grieving, injured, displaced and trying to find water, food, medicine and safety.

I am sure you all hope, like me, that someone will soon be able to stop the aggression, attacks and retaliation and start to work for reconciliation and a lasting peace.

As we prepare for the November memorial services throughout Bracknell Forest, the daily terror experienced by all peoples in these areas remind us how war impacts on ordinary citizens. Our thoughts are with all those affected.

In the council, we are trying to achieve a balanced budget. Bracknell Forest Council is not immune to the effects of rising inflation, years of underfunding from central government and increased demand for our services.

READ MORE: Bracknell council tax could rise as ‘not much left to cut’

Although all these pressures are out of the council’s control, we must take action to address the budget gap. The care and support to our most vulnerable residents requiring social care, is non-negotiable and must be prioritised, but still adds to our budget pressures.

The current year’s financial position is particularly challenging, but we are in a strong place compared to similar councils.

But I want to be honest and transparent with you. Financially, the next couple of years are not going to be easy, and difficult decisions will have to be made. You can read more about this on our website.

The proposed budget will go out for consultation in December, and I will visit key places in the borough at the start of next year to talk to you about it and listen to your concerns. If you have any questions, you can come and talk to us.