Everybody should by now be under no illusion we are in the middle of a very difficult time for public services.

Two years on from the global financial crash and after more than a decade of Labour’s irresponsible high spending, we are now faced with a massive national deficit, which we need to reduce – and the public sector has a vital role to play in that.

It means councils like ours have to make tough choices – choices that in many ways are being forced on us by the legacy of years of wastefulness. Making those types of decision is not something I, nor any other politician I know, came into public services for. But if we want to ensure taxpayers do not suffer years of high interest and extra taxes, these decisions have to be made.

The budget for councils has been cut by 25 per cent. Our job now is to prioritise, and to focus sharply on the services residents want us to prioritise. This journey is not going to be easy, but in Croydon we began preparing for this eventuality months ago.

Our Step Change programme means we are working harder than ever to make sure we deliver value for money for residents. We have also given a commitment that our £150m capital programme for things like roads, parks and schools will not be affected. We’re investing £1.5m into improving parks, increasing the amount we spend on road repairs, and developing a fantastic new leisure facility at Waddon.

We are also working on new ideas like the local authority trading company plan that will help valued and important services to flourish while at the same time potentially bringing extra money into the council. We will move to a position where, rather than fund groups from across the area, we buy services from them depending on the need of local residents.

Whatever political rhetoric you hear, this is about one thing, and one thing only – value for money, and making sure we do whatever we can to ensure residents get it from a council that genuinely puts Croydon first.

Council Leader Mike Fisher