MY first year as the town's mayor has certainly been an exciting and interesting one, meeting people and seeing parts of the town that I would otherwise not have had the opportunity to do so.

There have as always, been many issues, such as the council seeking to uphold its commitment to a wide variety of organisations that are suffering from severe reductions in funding.

It will also be a challenging year ahead as central government cutbacks in public spending make themselves even more felt, especially those that affect the most vulnerable members of the community.

We will again be supporting many groups that reflect the diversity and uniqueness of Stroud through our grants system which will help them to sustain their activities.

The change of leadership at the district council has initiated a new approach to planning and in the meantime, Stroud again faces planning applications which are often not in the best interests of the town and its residents.

One of the successes for the town was the campaign to keep NHS services in the public sector at Stroud hospital.

The reopening of Lansdown Hall has also been well received with its much improved access and gallery space. The council was also awarded the status of Quality Council which recognises our engagement with the community.

I would like to thank all those who have helped contribute to the success of the year, the Green spaces team and their contribution to winning a gold medal in Stroud in Bloom, as well as their hard work maintaining Stroud's open spaces.

Also the clerk and the team in the office, fellow councillors and all of you for supporting me as mayor and look forward to meeting more of you in the future.

Happy Christmas and best wishes for the new year.