As this is my last column of 2017 it is a great opportunity to look back on a number of achievements from the past year.

We have signed a pioneering agreement with Nationwide for them to build more than 200 new houses on the brownfield site at Oakfield.

This complements the council’s active housebuilding programme, which includes some houses for sale, as well as bungalows that are enabling elderly residents to live independently in their local communities.

Our local economy continues to thrive with the number of people in employment above the regional and national averages. We have a wide range of successful industries ranging from engineering and finance to manufacturing and pharmaceutical.

Our local schools are making good progress in raising standards at primary level and in February the council voted, sadly not unanimously, to allocate £600,000 over three years to support secondary schools.

Ofsted’s regional director for the south west has praised the work undertaken by teachers, pupils, parents and governors and I am confident the exam results will start to reflect this.

We are seeing progress on a number of our key redevelopment schemes. Seven Capital has now been given outline planning permission for the new regional leisure destination at North Star.

While we were moving forward in Swindon, Bristol City Council was putting its own project on hold. Had we listened to those Siren voices that were telling the council to abandon this scheme, we too would have nothing now.

Planning permission has also been given for major new town centre flats at Aspen House, the old Tented Market and Falcon House.

Swindon will be in an excellent place to benefit from the £10bn upgrade and electrification of the rail line to London next year and the superb new trains that are coming into service.

Although we have faced huge demand-led pressures to provide care for vulnerable elderly residents and safeguarding children, our prudent fiscal management has meant we have achieved this without excessive burdens on the local tax payers. In fact, council tax has risen less between 2005 and 2017 than it did from 2002 to 2004.

All of this and more has been achieved through the hard work of council officers, our partners, and my fellow cabinet members.

Of course there were projects where we were not as successful as we wanted them to be, but I prefer to be a glass half full rather than half empty person.

It just remains for me to wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year, and if you are going out to parties or celebrations, drive safely.