I hope all of our residents managed to have a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.

The coming year will present a range of challenges and opportunities, and I want to make sure we are well prepared to meet them, and ensure our borough bounces back in line with our 3 Rs – response, recover, regeneration.

One of the first things we’re doing is taking action to improve our children’s services, in response to a recent critical report by Ofsted. We’re certainly not the only council to have faced major difficulties caused by cost pressures and high staff workload, but this is one of the council’s most essential functions and we need to do better.

We have already approved additional investment into this vital area and will be improving staff recruitment and retention policies, all under new senior leadership, and we are confident this will bring us results. At cabinet we have set out a detailed action plan to respond to the issues raised by Ofsted.

We also have major plans for a strong and fair recovery, one which places the values and aspirations of our communities at its heart. We won’t settle for just getting us back to where we were, we have an aspiration for a better future.

Before Christmas we were delighted to see the hard work of so many people result in a successful community ownership bid to purchase Gigg Lane. To build on this, the council has proposed we enter into a formal agreement with Bury supporters groups to help bring football back to the ground.

We have always been supportive of this, and we are now looking at how we can provide financial help, in a way that brings everybody together as a united fanbase with a successful club at the heart of the community. I hope this will go some way to helping right the injustice of what happened to the club and fans.

We have also just approved creating 13 new one-bed flats for people with learning and/or physical disabilities. This will enable Bury people to stay in their hometown rather than be placed elsewhere for the support they need.

You may have also read about our plans to regenerate the heart of Bury and Ramsbottom. These proposals are now out for public consultation. Together with the unprecedented investment we are making in Radcliffe and Prestwich town centres, this shows we are determined to ensure the whole borough can thrive in a post-Covid world, so Bury remains a great place in which to live, work and study.