IT FELT this week that spring had finally sprung. Not only has the sun come out on more than one occasion but a number of our Labour administration’s commitments have come to fruition, which has definitely put a spring in my step.

We reopened the public toilets at Pavilion Gardens, which are now open seven days a week from 10am to 6pm and staffed by a toilet attendant and security support. We are still recruiting staff and aim to expand these hours as soon as possible. This follows the last Green administration’s efforts to close and mothball public toilets while suggesting residents should pay for others.

We also rolled out our new recycling points in the city with 54 new ones for food and drink cartons (such as Tetra Pak) which will reduce household waste. Alongside 21 waste electrical and electronic equipment containers. Check out the council website for more information on where these recycling points are located.

This week we also set out our new approach to protecting our vital lifeguard service through a partnership with the RNLI, who have so much expertise in the area of sea safety.

Our brand new all-weather 3G pitches, complete with floodlighting for year-round use, opened in Withdean. Bookings are already coming in thick and fast and this will be a game changer for local football clubs, schools and community groups.

The basics are the very least our residents respect and deserve but they also deserve a council that is ambitious for the city and driving regeneration and growth. That’s why I’m pleased to see that this week Brighton based developers Moretons Investments announced they have bought Imperial Arcade with the aim of bringing it back to life through a mix of business and homes in the heart of our city. I have fond memories of Imperial Arcade from my childhood: a trip to Gamleys with my dad was a real treat and the icing on the cake would be a pit stop at Forfars. Last year I had a very positive meeting with Ingka Group and Ikea who are taking over Churchill Square. I look forward to seeing this area of our city being given some much needed TLC and developed in a way which is in keeping with the unique character of our city.

I also had the opportunity this week to take the Tories to task on ITV’s The Last Word, where we debated issues including the smoking ban, the Rwanda Bill and the upcoming May elections. Nationally and locally the Tories are careering from one disaster to another, including Liz Truss’s shameless tour, cashing in on her disastrous five minutes as Prime Minister, for which many are literally still paying the price. In Brighton and Hove, local Tory councillors’ attempts to do our city down through negative briefing to the Daily Mail were thwarted as the Mail was forced to issue an apology and full retraction of an article published earlier this year following a complaint made by Labour councillor and deputy leader Jacob Taylor to the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

The article was littered with inaccuracies and misrepresentations and contained photographs claiming to represent the current state Brighton and Hove, which were in fact taken under the last Green administration. Shame on local Tory councillors Alistair McNair and Ivans Lyons, for talking down Brighton and Hove to the national press. It’s all they know how to do – moaners in chief - with no vision for the city and no care for the damage they do to business and tourism. On the subject of local Tories, they lost a councillor this week as councillor for Hove Park and Westdene Samer Bagaeen announced his resignation from the Conservative Party, leaving them with just five councillors in the city.

And finally, last Monday I was re-elected as the leader of the Brighton and Hove Labour group of councillors, and I am hugely appreciative to my colleagues for putting this trust in me for another year. I love this job and while so much has been achieved in our first year as a majority Labour administration, in many ways it feels like we’ve just got started. The strength of our Labour group has been and will continue to be the driving force behind change in the city. How we operate and the way in which we are able to deliver for the city, is a million miles away from the slow and stagnant years of no overall control. This is why it now makes sense for us to move to a cabinet system of governance, where the policies on which we were elected, can be implemented at pace.

Bella Sankey is leader of Brighton and Hove City Council