I would like to start by congratulating young Maisie Sly, who was in a film that won an Oscar earlier this week.

It’s a fantastic achievement and she has put Swindon on the map in a really positive way.

I hope she can be an inspiration for all the other young people in Swindon looking to achieve success.

In addition, I would like to thank you for your patience over the recent spell of bad weather we have just experienced.

Staff from across the council worked around the clock to make sure vulnerable people had food and heating and our roads were kept as clear as we could keep them given the conditions.

Our teams gritted and ploughed over 1,100 miles of roads in very challenging conditions, we made extra effort to deliver meals to over 150 vulnerable people who could not travel to buy food, and we provided accommodation for 42 homeless people who would have otherwise been sleeping rough.

We are fast approaching the local elections on May 3. As many of you may now be aware, Swindon is taking part in a national voter identification pilot scheme and residents will be required to bring their poll card to prove their identity before they can vote.

This initiative is an important step in making sure that our democracy is protected and brought in line with the standard ID requirements of the 21st Century, instead of relying on what worked well at the start of the 19th Century.

Many of us are used to showing ID to collect parcels, board flights or open a bank account among many other things and it is only right that we do so.

The requirement to show ID is there to protect you, make sure you get what you asked for, and prevent fraud. After all, voting is important as elections influence the lives of you and your family on a daily basis.

This pilot scheme will also have the added benefit that your voting experience will be much faster if you use your poll card as ID because it will take a matter of moments to scan through a tablet. It will make voting easier and quicker as well as more secure.

You will be getting a letter this month asking you to register to vote (even if you have already done so) and decide your voting method.

This letter will let everyone know about the scheme and this will form part of an extensive communications campaign to remind residents of the need to bring their poll cards to the polling stations.

Poll cards will then be sent to all registered voters in April so make sure you keep them safe for May 3.

For more information you can visit www.swindon.gov.uk/VoterID