In any election year a resounding victory to retain control of Richmond Council must be seen as a success, but there has been little time to sit back and relax for Richmond’s Conservatives.

Reflecting on 2014, Lord True, leader of Richmond Council, has had much to celebrate but an endless amount of work to do as well, with 2015 and the arrival of the Rugby World Cup one of the most exciting times in recent years.

He said: “We were pleased about winning the election – that was an extraordinary result. To be re-elected, which is never easy, with a hugely increased majority, is a positive and the people saying you are doing a good job is immensely satisfying. I really believe in local government. I think it matters and local government officers overwhelmingly do a good job. I was pleased to see their good work.”

One of the major achievements in the past year has been the introduction of sixth forms to many of Richmond’s schools, providing much-needed places for children to continue their studies.

“The opening of the sixth forms beginning has been incredible, actually, one of the happiest days of the year for me. I think I had paid off my mortgage and went along to the opening of the Waldegrave sixth form,” said Lord True. “Seeing all those happy young people and seeing that people want sixth form choice and are getting it was marvellous.”

Free schools have proved more controversial, but Lord True said it was important to work within the system provided, and to be as helpful as possible to the free schools and the people living in surrounding areas.

Another major mission for Lord True has been bridging the gap between politicians and the public. Village plans have attracted a reassuring audience in Kew and Whitton and Lord True said engaging with a wary public was a big challenge but one that had to be taken on.

Twickenham developments continue at a rapid pace, with a truly exciting year with the Rugby World Cup approaching, riverside being opened up and a genuine transformation already under way.

One of the disappointments came with the withdrawal of plans to house the Gloriana in Twickenham, but Lord True said people were very clearly against the proposals and the council listened.

For all the optimism, finance continues to be a concern for all councils, but Richmond’s poor grant settlement has a surprising benefit, according to Lord True, with the borough less beholden to Government funding than many others.

“We do face challenges on spending and this worries me as much as any other local authority leaders. We have to accept that the country can’t go on spending as it was,” he said. “We reckon we will have to take £20m to £25m out in the coming years and we will do as much as we can without seeing key services cut.”

As the budget cuts continue, there will be renewed efforts to share more services with neighbours, as already seen in the Achieving for Children partnership with Kingston, which Lord True said proved you could save money and improve services.

There will be challenges in the year ahead, but Lord True remains as enthusiastic as ever.

He said: “I love this job. It is a privilege to have this job and responsibility. Of course it is a fantastic honour and responsibility to be in the House of Lords, but I think the greatest honour I have ever had is to be the leader of this wonderful community. It is incredible.”