OUR ‘Just to Phil You in’ column returns this week.

In this edition, Test Valley Borough Council leader Phil North looks at the freeze on council tax and Andover Leisure Centre.

At this week’s budget meeting, full council confirmed my cabinet’s proposal to freeze Test Valley’s portion of the council tax for 2019/20.

The decision comes off the back of the positive performance of our Project Enterprise initiative, to increase income from investments - which is now really bearing fruit.

This year we received £1.7m more than if we’d kept the money in the bank and an additional £442k compared to last year.

This increased income has successfully offset some of the reduction in central government funding, enabling us to avoid leaning on taxpayers and to continue to invest in our communities.

We have frozen the council tax on four occasions over the last eight years – and we will always look to freeze it if we can afford to do so without compromising frontline services.

Due to our careful financial stewardship, council tax in Test Valley is £43 lower than the average in the rest of England.

After the bustle of the council chamber on Monday, I spent Tuesday behind the scenes at the brand new state-of-the-art Andover Leisure Centre.

I have to say that it looks absolutely stunning with a top quality finish – and the positive feedback I received from the photos I shared online blew me away.

When it opens shortly, I know that residents will spend many happy hours enjoying the new facilities. Personally, I can’t wait to try out the new climbing wall.

Due to the impending elections and the rules the Andover Advertiser need to follow during the campaign period, this will be my final column before polling day.

I hope that based on our record of success, clear plans for the future and your support I will back ‘Philing You In’ in May but however you are planning to cast your ballot, please do vote.

From Magna Carta to the Representation of the People Act, from the Bill of Rights to the Suffragettes, our forebearers fought and often died for our democracy – and however much it comes under pressure – it is the absolute cornerstone of what it means to be British.