Ken Bodfish has designs on the city he loves and he want to make sure they are good.

The council boss is concerned there has not been a single beautiful public building in Brighton since the Second World War.

Looking at the Guggenheim building in Bilbao and the Lowry Centre in Salford, he can see how a great public building can revitalise a city.

He hopes that vicious architectural cycle will be broken with the building of the new library and civic square in Jubilee Street when work starts this month.

And he hopes architects for new buildings at the station site will produce drawings of a similar standard.

Coun Bodfish also stresses that if any new buildings at the West Pier are built, they have to be of a standard to match that of the Grade I listed pier.

He is passionate about preserving the great Regency buildings of Brighton and Hove but added: "We also need good modern buildings that will make a mark."

Coun Bodfish is also putting the environment high on his list of priorities for the burgeoning city.

If a new Sainsbury's store is built as part of the station redevelopment, he wants to ensure it is as sustainable as possible - rather like the new green store at Greenwich.

There could be difficulties on the Downs. The boundaries of the new national park will probably be settled next year. At the same time, the city council will be preparing its local plan.

Coun Bodfish said: "We have to have some breathing space. I don't want to go into details of where it should be but we do need some opportunities for housing and business."

But he stressed that he was an early advocate of the national park and remained committed to it.

The council has a problem with finance. It needs to save about £10 million so books can be balanced and council tax kept down.

New chief executive David Panter is taking a fresh look at the city's books and is confident savings can be found.

Coun Bodfish said: "We need to look at the way in which we can maintain services rather than simply slash the budget."

The council leader is also confident a solution can be found to the long-running waste saga, although this will come at a cost. Successive private contractors in effect subsidised the waste services so they would control them.

Now the council is in charge, the cost is about £3 million a year more but the streets are generally being swept better and dustbins emptied. There is also a real commitment by the workforce and the unions to get on with the job.

Since the 1999 local elections, when Labour was returned with a narrow majority, the ruling group has been bedevilled by splits. But the group has come together since the last and longest friction over the way in which the authority should be run and there is a greater spirit of unity.

It is possible some of the long-term rebels will be offered posts in the new committee system, which the council is having to adopt following the defeat of an elected mayor in a referendum last October. They will also be kept on a looser reign than before with the freedom to disagree with the group on some issues.

Talks are also progressing well towards the introduction of the system, which will certainly be in place by May, if not before.

It looks as if there will be four main service committees meeting at six weekly intervals rather than monthly.

Although there has been a row with the Lib Dems over not immediately introducing neighbourhood forums, they will be considered as an add-on at a later date.

One of the committees will deal particularly with children and early years to demonstrate how much attention Brighton and Hove attaches to education.

As a former lecturer, Coun Bodfish attaches huge importance to education and admits the city has not yet got it right.

But it is learning and improving. There will also be huge changes in social care, as some services are merged with those in the health service.

Coun Bodfish is concerned too many of the ruling group are at present in late middle age.

He intends younger members of the group to be promoted in a reshuffle to go with the committee system.

There will also be a rejigging of allowances to make them reflect new responsibilities, although the total will not be increased.

Some of the main problems with Brighton and Hove derive from its economic success. He is concerned the rise in house prices in particular is tending to create a division between the haves and the have nots.

Coun Bodfish would particularly like to see action on Shoreham Harbour to relieve some of these pressures.

Although this is the biggest brownfield site in the South-East outside London, it is proving particularly hard to redevelop because of problems over access. But it could provide hundreds of homes and thousands of jobs.

He said Brighton and Hove is unlikely ever to see again the introduction of single big employers of 500 people or more.

But he said: "We could easily have 100 companies each employing five people."

Coun Bodfish will bat for Brighton and Hove whenever he can but he also looks at the wider world, having lived in London, been a councillor in Preston and represented local government in Europe.

It's not going to be an easy year and there will be setbacks. But he is both pragmatic and prepared to delegate to other councillors such as his deputy Jackie Lythell.

At 58, he has no ambitions for himself beyond leading Brighton and Hove forward and the ruling Labour group through tricky local elections in 2003.

But, although he loves playing with a posse of grandchildren, he has no intentions of devoting himself full-time to them for a few years yet.