I hope it’s not too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year now that we seem to be well into January. 

We returned this week to announce that the council is facing challenges and opportunities as it seeks to reshape itself in the light of rising costs, demands on key services and the need to become financially more self-sufficient.

We have set out our budget and the operational plan taking the council forward which includes the reduction of 300 full-time equivalent jobs from the council, including a management restructure. None of this is easy while maintaining our commitment to protect frontline services as far as possible and to continue to invest in important local priorities such as transport, housing, economic growth and the environment.

I have already said this but one of the keys to helping the council spend its limited funds on the things that really matter is in getting people involved early and often in solving challenges together.

We are looking to forge a new relationship with partners and people to take a more proactive role in supporting their community. We also recognise that these proposals will have an impact on staff, so we will be listening and working closely with them to ensure that these changes are managed with the care and attention needed.

A recent example of how working together we can reduce the impact on the council’s budget has been the excellent take-up by residents when it comes to recycling. We are dramatically reducing the amount of general waste going into landfill and instead being much smarter about recycling waste.

Figures show, on average, a phenomenal 51 tonnes per day more recycling was collected during the Christmas period than over the same time last year. I want to thank people for supporting this and I really hope these figures will continue to increase throughout 2018.

This week I had the pleasure – and pain – of jumping around the new trampoline park at Bath Sports and Leisure Centre. The park is a fantastic addition to the centre and it complements the brand new ten pin bowling alley which opened last November. Both new attractions are part of the £8 million redevelopment of leisure facilities at the centre, which is providing enjoyable and affordable family leisure activities year-round as well as encouraging us all to live more active lives.