We all know there is never a good time to share difficult news and this week has been no exception. The council is facing significant pressures on its budget and we are having to make some tough decisions including job losses, however our commitment to protecting frontline services as much as possible remains steadfast.
The budget has been front and centre of my week and it will continue to be as we work with the community in looking at ways to help meet these pressures. Like every other council in the country, Bath & North East Somerset Council faces these unprecedented challenges, which are due to increasing demand for services and reduced funding. If you want to have your say then please find out about our Community Forums, which are happening across the area over the next few weeks.
We want to work with communities to help reduce demand and make our money go further. Working with neighbouring authorities, through the West of England Combined Authority, will also help us draw investment into the area and shape the future for Bath and North East Somerset.
Housing is a big part of shaping our future and it was something I was able to discuss with Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, when I met him yesterday. While we are aware of the great need for more homes, we are asking for the right infrastructure to avoid further pressures as well as looking at issues of growing a skilled workforce which is able to meet these combined demands.
In the middle of a very challenging week I was able to take some time to support a hero of mine – 11-year old Nicholas Nikiforou, who beat his bullies and has gone on to inspire others.
Nik, from Weston-Super-Mare, was badly bullied for a large birthmark on his face, but now hopes to stop others from receiving the same taunts he did and has been acknowledged in The Legacy Awards, set up in memory of the late Princess of Wales.
I first met Nik at the Princess Diana awards at the University of Bath where he gave a speech and I was bowled over by him. I’ve stayed in touch with him ever since. He has campaigned tirelessly for respect for one another, and on Tuesday he was exhibiting some of his great art work at Clevedon Pier to highlight his campaign for kindness and tolerance of one another and to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital.
He is an inspiration and I hope, as we go through these very challenging circumstances, we can be reminded of his simple but important message of respect.
PHOTO CREDIT: WESTON MERCURY