The leader of Stroud District Council, Doina Cornell, looks at the year ahead.

We are in the first full week of a new decade and I am entering the third year of leading Stroud District Council which is something I am very proud to do, both locally and nationally.

I will be joining other council leaders from around the country at the District Councils Network board meeting tomorrow (Thursday, January 9) where we will consider how best councils can deliver services which matter to residents and make a difference to everyday lives.

With a new government in place, we as councils across the political spectrum will be working with Whitehall to get the best results for our districts. We will be looking at strategy for housing and planning, for small towns, energy efficiency in homes, health and wellbeing, and homelessness.

That’s against a backdrop of less money from central government over the past several years, while still being expected to maintain our high standards of delivery of everyday services.

An element of the pressure we are under to deliver is our Local Plan – the blueprint for development of homes, employment and leisure facilities up to 2040.

We consulted on the emerging strategy for the Local Plan around a year ago, and now we are consulting on the Draft Local Plan - consultation ends on Wednesday 22 January and it’s really important that as many people as possible have their say. Full details, including how to submit a comment are on our website

2020 is expected to be a big year for the canal between Stonehouse and Saul Junction - we will be submitting a Lottery funding bid to restore four miles of the Cotswold Canals, connecting it with five miles of the restored section to the national waterways network. The project has huge support from both residents and businesses and will bring tremendous environmental, leisure, heritage and economic benefits - and make Stroud and Stonehouse canal towns once again.

Three years ago, we announced a plan to improve walking and cycling routes in the district and I am pleased to see that great progress is being made on the cycle path between Nailsworth and Dudbridge – the new, smooth surface is replacing the stony sections, and weather-permitting it should be finished by the Spring.

And on Friday, we will host our first Stroud Local Strategic Partnership meeting of the year, at our Ebley Mill headquarters. The partnership brings together voluntary, business, charity, health and education sectors – this meeting’s theme is housing and I’m looking forward to hearing from organisations including Gloucestershire Nightstop, Gloucestershire Rural Community Council on community-led housing, and Age UK.