Q: You were 'thrown in at the deep end' as council leader. How are you finding the job? Stephen C, Bootham

A: I was deputy leader for 11 years and have been a councillor in York for 20 years so I have had a lot of experience but yes actually leading the council is a different job and I am enjoying the challenge.

I am proud to be leading a group and an authority with such a good track record of delivering good services for its residents and dealing effectively with the big issues facing the city - helping to bring a significant number of new jobs to York with a twenty year low on unemployment, running Beacon Council education and housing services, securing very good inspections and or customer service plaudits for housing, schools and social services, and being awarded centre of excellence for our Transport Planning and delivery.

Q: What are the key challenges facing York in the coming decade? Matt Simpson, Clifton.

A: As a council we are faced with the challenges of constant change both outside the council and within.

Our job is to work as a vital service provider and with our key partners to ensure we increase opportunities and prosperity for the people of York sustainably and, in particular, help to continue the current low unemployment levels in the city.

We are concerned about the impact of massive house price rises in the city and the threat of these outstripping the income of York residents.

And, while it can add to the city's prosperity, the apparent rise in the number of people moving to York simply to live is also a concern especially in the light of the need to mitigate the negative impacts of this such as an increase in car use and the effect of that on our very constrained road network.

However, we have a track record of responding to these challenges and providing community leadership as the city looks for solutions.

We have made significant progress on providing positive alternatives such as park and ride and increasing greener transport options through our Local Transport Plan and we have worked successfully in partnership with the university through Science City York to increase and diversify job opportunities and the major York Central regeneration project will be a key part of our efforts to maintain and enhance the prosperity of the city.

As a council we want to build on our successes - we want well-housed, well-educated, well-protected residents who can enjoy the city's prosperity in cleaner air, pleasant surroundings and with the confidence that their local council is working hard to provide them with good value vital services and services which help them make the best of what living in York has to offer.