TOUGH times lie ahead for Cumberland Council predicted the leader during his report at the authority's annual meeting.

Speaking at the Civic Centre in Carlisle on Tuesday (May 14) councillor Mark Fryer (St Johns and Great Clifton, Labour) said that, while he believed the organisation was on a good financial footing, going forward "it will be tough".

His report reviewed the first year of the unitary authority and he said that when they had outlined their plans last year they had been "scorned at" by some in the chamber.

Cllr Fryer added: "Our partners recognise that we are serious and they want to work with us. We can't do it by ourselves."

He said that one of the council's achievements had been a reduction in the number of children in care – at the beginning of the council last April there were 527 children in care, which peaked at 537, but this had been reduced to 469. He added: "It's absolutely unbelievable that we've achieved that."

Speaking earlier in the meeting chief executive Andrew Seekings said they had to keep a focus on the council transformation plan.

He said the transformation would be a long journey and the ultimate aim was for it to become a world class public sector organisation.