The continued financial pressures facing the council was once again laid bare last night as my deputy, Councillor Russell Holland, presented the latest update on the budget for the next financial year and beyond.

We, like local authorities across the country, have been forced to find millions of pounds of savings each year for the past decade as we balance reductions in central government funding with increasing demand for our adults’ and children’s services.

Over that period there have been changes to the way we deliver services, but we have still kept the show on the road.

Our leisure services have been kept open and are run by a not-for-profit organisation in GLL, a number of our libraries have been taken over by community groups and newly-created parish councils are doing a fine job of providing local services to local people.

But there is still much to do.

We are currently in the midst of a programme to achieve £30m of essential savings by March 2020. What I can say is that we are continuing our work to make the council into a more innovative and efficient organisation, improving our digital services, reducing demand and becoming more commercial in the way we operate so we generate income to help pay for services.

Our drive to become more efficient will see a smaller council with fewer employees and we have had to make some difficult, but necessary decisions, with regard to reducing our workforce.

We have managed to minimise the impact on employees by deleting vacant posts wherever possible and any redundancies have always been a last resort.

Despite all the hard work by colleagues in closing the savings gap, we are still forecasting a £2.3m overspend for this year’s budget which has been largely caused by an increase in the cost of looking after our most vulnerable children.

There is ongoing work in children’s services to reduce the number of children needing our support through our Early Help team and we are hopeful that investment in the service area will help to manage demand, as has been the case with our Adult Services.

We will be doing all we can to close that budget gap in the coming months.

Last night, cabinet also approved a strategy for dealing with our waste over the next decade.

There is a big emphasis on encouraging residents to recycle more of their waste to help us reach government targets.

Of course much of the media focus on the draft waste strategy was centred on an idea we ran past residents of temporarily processing plastic waste through our Solid Recovered Fuel plant to turn it into energy for industry.

Despite initial media reports, this idea has not been completely put in the bin and we await the publication of the government’s own waste strategy with interest to see how it proposes to deal with the plastic waste issue.

We will also be looking into future collection methods and treatments of plastics recycling to achieve the best operational and environmental outcomes for Swindon.

We will re-examine our position in the summer.