Making ends meet gets no easier for most of us - whether it's your household budget or your business accounts. And it is true of the council. When I and my colleagues in the current council administration took office last year we were faced with a massive budget gap. The cut to the council's funding by central government was the 11th biggest in the country - taking away almost £1 in every £4 we received in 2017/18.
We set out our priorities in a new corporate plan and committed to improving the lives of all residents across our five towns. We also held the largest ever consultation with our community so you could have your say on what we spent our money on and how we could balance the books.
I'm proud to be able to say we have set a budget that avoids cuts to your front line services, invests in all five towns of our borough and keeps the council in good shape to meet its long-term objectives and face future challenges.
A rise in council tax had to be part of the solution to make all of this possible. And increasing council tax a bit to protect the most important services was the clear preference in the consultation we conducted. For most people this will be a rise of less than 15p a week.
We have turned the council inside out, restructuring from the top, to save more than £4million - the most ever saved in one year.
We are invested in better play equipment in parks, lighting and CCTV improvements for increased community safety, support to help people into employment and security measures to protect public spaces against illegal encampments.
Of course, we still face uncertainty over the future financing of councils from Westminster and we have plenty to do to achieve our ambitions for the borough. But I am confident we have set a path to revitalise our borough and secure a brighter future for our residents.
Councillor Gavin Callaghan
Chairman, Policy and Resources Committee