North Devon Council has been working to help those made homeless this year, after allocating £1.2million to buy houses for temporary accommodation, writes leader Des Brailey.

We receive requests for assistance from around 2,000 households per year. Almost a third of these have a homelessness risk.

We also engage with up to 100 people who are at risk of, or are actually rough sleeping and our officers work hard to help them.

The council has been working on new ways to support those at risk and we have procured four properties after allocating £1.2m.

We reviewed our garden waste collection following feedback last year. As a result we changed our winter schedule and now continue fortnightly collections during November before moving to four-weekly collections through December and January.

Our last visit to the landfill site at Deep Moor will be on February 9; from February 11 the new transfer station at Brynsworthy will be open and household waste will be taken there and later transported to be incinerated.

Food waste will go to Holsworthy where it is converted to energy, and garden waste will continue for the time being to be converted to compost at Deep Moor.

Following the collapse of the theatres trust in 2017 we agreed to extend the Parkwood Leisure contract until January 2019.

This gave us time to work up a tender document for interested parties to bid. As we now know, Selladoor have been successful and will take over in 2019.

During the year I lobbied the Government and our MP Peter Heaton-Jones about keeping RMB Chivenor open. We still await the outcome from the Secretary of State.

Another area I lobbied on was councils paying business rates for toilets. As we are under pressure at parish, town and district level it would seem sensible to remove this burden.

Our council is working with the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office to review CCTV. We need commitment from the police so we do not carry all the burden, which currently falls on our tax payers to the tune of almost £200,000 per year.

Finance: we are under continuing pressure financially, our current year position is a forecast deficit of £27,000 and our medium term financial plan identified a budget gap for 2019/20 of £345,000 which our officers are working hard to reduce.

However, we were very fortunate to record a surplus in 2017/18 of £504,000. There is pressure on this amount because the Pannier Market requires a new roof which could cost anything up to £500,000; and on top of that we are looking at the feasibility of internal toilets in the market.

We have been working on the extension of Barnstaple museum, the planned new leisure centre, the planned water sports centre at Ilfracombe and the new artificial grass pitch at the Tarka Tennis Centre; all very ambitious programmes.

September saw a very successful Tour of Britain cycle race pass through our district and we are hopeful we can work with Tour organisers to encourage them back to Barnstaple in the future.