I start this week’s blog, the first of the year, by wishing all my readers a very Happy New Year. I would also like to thank all those officers who were working over the festive period to deliver services around the clock – not least our gritting team who were out a number of times helping to keep our highways safe in sub-zero conditions.

We returned this week to announce that the Council is facing the biggest financial challenge in our history. With continued reductions in Government funding and complex challenges such as the rapid growth in the number of vulnerable and older people needing social care support, there is no doubt that this and the coming years will be tough.

We need to save a further £37 million over the next three years and hope to do this by protecting frontline services as far as possible and continuing to invest in important local priorities such as affordable housing, transport improvements and economic growth to create good local jobs. More information can be found here

This week I attended the funeral for former Mayor of Bath Carol Paradise, who also served as a Councillor for Kingsmead and Twerton. Her funeral at Bath Abbey was well attended and it was clear to see that all those attending, including myself, will miss her dearly.

The issue of dementia and the care for those with the condition was back on the agenda for me this week as I attended the Dementia Action Alliance meeting on Thursday. We were discussing ways to make Bath and North East Somerset a dementia friendly community, assisting those affected, and their families, to increase their quality of life. If you wish to get involved contact bathdaa@gmail.com or visit www.dementiaaction.org.uk

This meeting was beneficial ahead of the Prevention Matters conference which I will be attending next week to look at how councillors can help improve health in communities.

It was a disappointing result for Bath Rugby when they were defeated by Exeter Chiefs last weekend after throwing away almost-certain victory. I watched the game with former Bristol Rugby player Mike Woodburn, whose son Ollie used to play for Bath, but is now a member of the Exeter squad.