Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve outlined the difficulties faced by Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) due to soaring costs and the low level of grants from central government. Despite this, IBC is levying a lower increase in council tax, both in percentages and cash terms, than Tory-run Suffolk County Council and Suffolk’s Tory Police and Crime Commissioner.

Our sound management of IBC finances allows us to keep bills down and protect existing services like the young person’s summer I-Card and our events programme. Over 100,000 people visited the various IBC events in the town centre.

We will invest to improve Ipswich over the next year. Ipswich town centre, like many other town centres across the country, is going through a tough time so investment there will be a priority.

An exciting new occupant will be coming to the former Customer Contact Centre in the basement of the Town Hall, bringing high quality jobs to the town.

As the Town Fund delivery moves up a gear, we will work with partners to deliver projects in the town centre such as more greenery, digital trails, improved public areas and the regeneration fund to bring empty shops back into use.

We will continue to address concerns about safety in the town centre with our funding of a permanent daytime police presence of PCSOs. These are backed up by the Kestrel team, police officers who are based at the police station on Princes Street. We have a continuing programme of CCTV improvements, funded by successful bids to the Safer Streets fund.

Our council house building will continue with 300 properties in the pipeline. This is over £80 million of investment in Ipswich, which will employ hundreds of local people. 96 properties at Ravenswood are well under way, with the first homes becoming available in the autumn. At Bibb Way, houses fitted with modern heat pumps are being built. The other two building sites, Fore Hamlet and Hawke Road, will soon be on the way as contracts have now been agreed.

Alongside the council’s own housing programme, we are working with developers to progress the Ipswich Garden Suburb, which is building houses for sale. It is good to see more people with their own homes. I am particularly looking forward to the new Country Park, which I think will be a popular destination.

The major refurbishment of Ipswich Museum will continue, with opening planned for 2025. The largest investment in the museum’s 140-year history will create a modern, interactive experience that will draw people in.

Last summer, I was pleased to see a new play area at the Newbury Road Recreation Ground. My son loves it! I’m also pleased that we are continuing to invest in the Play Strategy and improving facilities in open spaces. £300,000 will be spent in Chantry Park on replacing the existing play areas. The large one by the toilet block and smaller one by London Road entrance, to provide accessible and inclusive play. This will include ensuring that there is a quiet space for play and provision for neurodiversity and an outdoor gym. £400,000 more is available for improvements in other parks.

The budget also includes a £3.3million grant for Broomhill Pool. This will be paid out in stages as work is done by Fusion Lifestyle. This will be a unique asset to the town when completed.

Last year, IBC adopted a new corporate strategy called Proud of Ipswich: Championing our community and revitalising our town. Our budget for next year will continue to champion and revitalise the town and help us all become Proud of Ipswich.

Neil MacDonald is Labour leader of Ipswich Borough Council