Councillor Ray Puddifoot, leader of the Conservative group on Hillingdon Council
IT SEEMS that hardly a day goes by without the news featuring the latest effect of the reduction in public expenditure funding.
From health to education, and from policing to local authorities, everyone is being asked to bear their share of the debt left by the last government.
In Hillingdon we have worked hard on our budget for next year, and the sound financial approach that has become the norm under the current Conservative administration has stood us in good stead.
The draft budget and medium-term financial forecast were published last week, indicating that we would have to reduce the cost of running the council by £22million next year, with a further £38m over the following three years, and this we will do.
Despite all the doom and gloom, we are able, for a third year in succession, to freeze council tax rises for all residents.
Parking charges, homecare charges, meals on wheels and care line charges will also be frozen for Hillingdon residents.
Unlike many other local authorities, there will be no reduction in the number of refuse and recycling operations, or a fortnightly waste collection.
There will be no reduction in the number of operatives who keep our streets clean, there will be no reduction in the number of library staff, and it appears that we are now the only local authority not closing libraries but rebuilding or refurbishing all of them.
We will, as promised, build a health centre for the people of Yiewsley and West Drayton, improve the facilities at Ruislip Lido, refurbish Highgrove Pool and build new libraries in South Ruislip and Hayes.
The popular Chrysalis Programme will continue, as will the road safety and town centre initiative schemes.
Yes, we will have to operate with fewer employees and in a more efficient manner, but 'Putting Residents First' remains at the heart of what we do. We will never be able to please everyone, but given the size of the financial burden that we are dealing with, we are doing far better than many councils.
May I take this opportunity of wishing you all a very happy Christmas, and best wishes for 2011.