Tonight’s meeting of the Full Council will provoke challenge, debate and, I dare say, a fair dose of point scoring.

But leaving the political jousting to one side, this is the single most important vote of the council’s year. Deciding how to spend £136m of the council’s net budget is a serious business and one we have to get right, not only for residents in Swindon, but by law.

The council’s Cabinet is recommending a budget that includes a council tax increase of 2.99 per cent, which is just under the rate of inflation.

In addition to this, there will be a ring-fenced two per cent increase in the adult social care precept.

We could have opted to take the full 5.99 per cent council tax increase like many other local authorities have done, such as Wiltshire, but we have decided against this.

Although my administration’s budget plans, which cover the next two years, have been available for public scrutiny and debate since September, I have yet to see any alternatives put forward by opposition councillors – certainly at the time of going to press.

What I can tell readers is that there are no radical changes to council services in the budget approved by Cabinet because a number of difficult decisions, which safeguarded leisure and library services, were taken in previous years.

The main change you are likely to see is that we will increasingly be copying the most successful private companies and having more and more our services primarily accessible online.

As I have outlined in previous columns, we still have to save £30m before 2020 and we have already begun a programme of using technology and digital customer services to save costs.

We are also continuing to look at managing demand on our services and there will be a relentless focus on making the council more commercialised so we generate new income streams to support the provision of services in future.

And we will be doing all this at the same time as carrying out significant transformation throughout the town by investing millions of pounds in our road network, reinvigorating our town centre, boosting our economy by building the housing Swindon needs and supporting game changing developments such as the indoor ski centre at North Star.

But, in order to achieve all these positive outcomes we need to achieve a balanced budget, so we can continue delivering for Swindon.