I THINK it’s fair to say that spring is finally here and the weather and environment around us is changing in our district.

Change is certainly happening on our high streets too, and not always for the better, which is why we’re taking all the steps we can to help mitigate this and get behind our local businesses.

We recently voted to adopt a new business rates discount scheme which will benefit 186 businesses in the Stroud district and other discretionary reliefs have been applied – worth a total of more than £458,000.

That’s a Government scheme which we opted in to and there is more Government funding available in response to the High Streets Experts Panel Report.

There is a £675m pot available for towns and cities to bid for a share of, called the Future High Street Fund, and I am proud to say that an expression of interest in funding to improve Stroud town centre has been submitted through Stroud District Council.

It’s good to see partnership working between Stroud District Council, town council, Gloucestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, county council and others, to put the bid together.

I lead a council which covers the whole district, and I recognise the challenges faced by market towns but it was felt on this occasion that the best chance of success was to put Stroud forward because it has the greatest potential for significant positive transformation.

Keeping our towns vibrant is in part about local people having good places to live and so I was pleased to see the Housing Committee is being asked to adopt the Older Person’s Strategy.

Losing bank branches is also a concern and the Strategy and Resources Committee will consider an investment into the new Avon Mutual co-operative regional bank. This week is also momentous for the Subscription Rooms. We have arrived at a deal which keeps the venue in public hands and saves money.