East Suffolk’s amazing isn’t it? But you certainly don’t need to take my word for it.

Before Christmas, here at East Suffolk Council, we ran a photography competition, asking local people to send in their best snaps of local places.

East Anglian Daily Times: Boyton and Hollesley Marshes by Jordan Shaddick Boyton and Hollesley Marshes by Jordan Shaddick (Image: Jordan Shaddick)

We had an absolutely fantastic response with hundreds of wonderful photos, showcasing the beauty of our district – from our wonderful beaches to our magnificent market towns and beautiful countryside; large parts of which are designated as ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’.

This competition was a fun idea which worked and was a way to celebrate what we love about where we live and visit locally.

East Anglian Daily Times: Southwold by Tim BennettSouthwold by Tim Bennett (Image: Tim Bennett)

But it also told another story; a story of the great pride that so many of us feel, how amazing East Suffolk is, and how we would like to keep it that way.

Don’t you agree?

As a local authority, we have services which we must deliver by law. And although, of course, we do “more than just the bins”, waste collection and cleansing are a crucial and visible part of our wider responsibilities. So, it goes without saying - and I do sympathise with this view - when an area looks untidy, where there is litter and mess, even fly-tipping, that the first thought of many is to simply ask ‘what is the council doing about this’?

East Anglian Daily Times: River Deben, Felixstowe Ferry by Peter Stokes River Deben, Felixstowe Ferry by Peter Stokes (Image: Peter Stokes)

I can assure you – having been both an opposition councillor during the last Conservative administration at East Suffolk Council, and now as the authority’s Leader, heading up a Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent Council, that the commitment of councillors and officers to ensure the district looks the best it can is totally and utterly unwavering.

We invest every single penny we can in services to help maintain the beauty and cleanliness of East Suffolk – but sometimes, we have to be honest and admit that it can never necessarily be enough.

East Anglian Daily Times: Lowestoft Beach by Darren Kirby Lowestoft Beach by Darren Kirby (Image: Darren Kirby)

The pressure on budgets is felt in our homes as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.

They are felt by businesses who are doing their very best to stay afloat, and they are also felt by councils such as ours who have seen their funding reduced considerably.

For many councils, this has led to huge cuts to services and, in some cases, huge rises in Council Tax.

Thankfully neither is the case in East Suffolk, but the reality still remains that we will only receive around £3.65million in Government funding this year, compared to the £8 million which Suffolk Coastal & Waveney (predecessors to East Suffolk) were given in 2015/16.

A reduction of well over 50%, despite the ever-rising costs we face.

If we could, we would employ many more people, through our operational partners East Suffolk Services, to ensure our district remains spotless at all times. But the reality is that this simply isn’t possible. So, what is possible?

For me, and for councillors and officers throughout East Suffolk, we hope and believe that the incredible local pride we all feel - which was so apparent in our ‘East Suffolk Through the Lens’ photo competition – can be put to the best possible use.

A cross-party working group of councillors is already working on different ways we can work to maintain the beauty of East Suffolk, which includes encouraging more residents to take active pride in their local area.

This includes reducing fly-tipping, recycling properly and even, where possible, looking after the spaces outside your own property.

We are also working closely and collaboratively with Suffolk County Council who have responsibility for weeds on roads and pavements, potholes and road signs.

There is already an incredible network of volunteers who work to help keep our district beautiful, with regular litter-picks, planting, and an all-round effort to keep their local area clean.

We are always happy to support local communities and groups who help keep East Suffolk litter-free by carrying out litter picks in their local areas.

We can lend equipment for organised litter picks, including hi-viz vests, litter pickers, bags and bag hoops. We will also be organising our own litter picks which we would love people to get involved in too.

As I said, the Council sadly cannot do everything itself, but if East Suffolk matters to you, if you want to play your part we would love you to get involved and visit our website: www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/amazing.

The web address speaks for itself: East Suffolk’s Amazing… let’s keep it that way!