THIS year has been a turning point for our town council.
Financially we have regained the required amount of reserves thanks to careful monitoring by the staff and informed decisions by the council and the committees.
Committee chairmen are John Charlesworth for the full council, myself for the Applications Committee, Doug Vere Crticher for Services, Trevor Mayfield for General Purposes, Keith Dolby for Personnel and Mark Graves for Finance and Strategy.
The services staff have gone through a redundancy process. There have also been some long term illnesses. They have continued throughout to deliver an excellent service to the town.
There was a medical retirement and a resignation and neither of these posts was filled.
After various attempts, the council decided not to fill the role of deputy clerk, but to utilise the existing staff and their skills. The office staff have had their roles re-defined and have embraced these changes in a way which should give us all confidence.
A part time contract dog enforcement officer is now employed, and she is giving an excellent service.
The services committee has been very busy. In the cemetery, a new child section will be created and there has been a Jubilee copse planted in an area unsuitable for graves.
A large overgrown hedge has been cut back and the planned repairs to the paths is currently underway.
The toilet block has been re-painted but it is hoped that they could be replaced in the near future.
The allotments on both sites are all now taken and the waiting list has been updated.
The council and the Sleaford Museum Trust are working to convert the Monument Garden toilet block into a Town Museum, with one unisex public toilet.
Restoration work is planned for the War Memorial, with Councillor Garry Titmus being the driving force behind this project.
Working groups are looking at the Town Market, the Christmas Market, the provision of Christmas lights and the forthcoming St George's Day celebrations.
A major innovation this year was the creation of the Town Fund.
The town councillors who have not taken their monthly expenses have generously donated this surplus to create this new fund. This will be administered by the Lincolnshire Community Foundation together with council representatives.
There are some on-going projects under discussion and/or starting to take shape.
A planning permission to demolish the garages on Eastgate car park will be submitted. The council is saving to resurface the car park, but in the meantime some patching will be done in the entrance area.
A working group is meeting to look at the implications of the Mary Portas incentive to regenerate High Streets. Another group meets to look at the Council's open spaces and their use and development.
The council has taken an active part in the Sleaford regeneration meetings alongside district, county and business representatives.
Discussions continue with various agencies and authorities regarding the Tesco and Maltings developments. Many of these are confidential and cannot be reported on at this stage.
Toilet provision in the town centre area continues to be a priority, the town council has taken on the running of Money's Yard toilets whilst other options are being investigated.
The council has also decided to apply for Quality Status in 2013. The clerk and staff will start ensuring quality practices are fully in place from this year onwards.
A robust internal audit system and some hard work from the acting deputy clerk, Stuart Fletcher, and financial consultant ensured a more accurate budget.
This has resulted in an extremely favourable report from the external auditor.
This next year should see some positive moves to make a difference, now the financial position is once again secure.
I and all the committee chairmen thank the clerk, Shelagh McIntyre and all the staff for their dedication and hard work through what has been a very difficult year.
The new council had to hit the ground running and the mixture of new ideas and the experience of the senior councillors has proved to be inspirational and innovative and I thank everyone for working together for the good of Sleaford town.
Sleaford Town Council leader Brian Watson