After winning his Charlton Ward seat at the local election, Councillor Ian Carr has been selected to continue as Leader of TVBC.
During his Leader’s Speech, he covered the work TVBC has done as well as outlining future plans including the redevelopment of Andover Leisure Centre and announced the Community Asset Fund and Councillor Community Grant schemes will continue.
Madam Mayor, I am delighted to accept the position of Leader and would like to thank Councillor Stallard and Councillor Hawke for their kind words in nominating me, and the members for their support.
I would also like to congratulate you on your new role and hope you enjoy the coming year. May I also thank the outgoing Mayor, Councillor Jan Lovell, for doing a great job over the past 12 months.
Before I talk about our plans for the future, I would first like to begin by highlighting some of the key successes over the past four years. Back in 2011 we determined to focus our efforts four major topics, which were basically;
- The local economy.
- Our communities.
- Our natural and built environment.
- Access to decent homes.
As part of our work to achieve these goals we have:
- Introduced numerous new Grants to Incentivize Businesses and continued to win awards for our work.
- Introduced a pop-up shop initiative in Andover town centre to make use of empty units and showcase new and existing businesses which has seen a number of businesses go on to take permanent leases in the town.
- Delivered the Andover Summit initiative that included a range of successful projects such as the appointment of a new Town Centre Manager, dash and go parking, and a range of environmental improvements.
- Introduced long stay parking at Romsey Rapids to free-up short stay parking for visitors and shoppers and improved and enhanced many areas around the town.
- Commenced a project to provide a new kiosk for Romsey War Memorial Park.
- Invested in the Hampshire Superfast Broadband project, which will be rolled out to 90 per cent of premises across Hampshire by the end of 2015.
- Exceeded our target of delivering 800 affordable homes across the borough.
- Seen outstanding cross party working to get things done that matter most to residents and encourage communities to do more for themselves. This work attracted national exposure through the Keep it Real programme.
- Established a dedicated Community Team to support councillors.
- Invested more than £400,000 to offer communities funding support through the Community Asset Fund and Councillor Community Grants.
- Launched the successful Love Where You Live and Recycling Stars campaigns.
- Achieved Green Flag Awards each year for our parks and open spaces.
- And finally, we were one of just 120 areas selected across the country to develop an Our Place project in Romsey, which will progress as part of Romsey Future.
The past four years have been filled with challenges, but more importantly, with successes. There are many other achievements I could list but rather than dwell on the past, today is about looking to the future.
We have called our new corporate plan for 2015 to 2019 ‘Investing in Test Valley’.
While local government cuts continue to bite, Investing in Test Valley might seem a surprising title for our corporate plan. However, our ambition to be an investing council is about more than simply dividing up pounds and pence; instead it is about devoting our energy, skills and resources to achieving the best results for our communities.
We have spoken with our residents and reviewed statistical information and government policy to determine where to focus our efforts. Our goal is to do the best we can with what we have and make sure the borough is a great place to:
- Work and do business
- Live, with the supply of homes reflecting local needs
- Enjoy the natural and built environment
- And contribute and be part of a strong community
There are the issues which must drive our policies and activities.
Under each of these aims we have developed a series of goals and ambitions. Although I don’t plan to list all of these today, I will take this opportunity to touch on just a few.
We will continue to support and strengthen the local economy by developing practical initiatives in partnership with the business community to help small businesses.
We will support the delivery of superfast broadband and enhance our business parks as locations that meet commercial demands.
Our town centre environments will improve, making the most of their market town heritage.
We plan to deliver a new housing strategy to set out a new housing offer to improve the provision of local homes that reflect local needs.
We will continue to focus on delivering affordable homes and ensuring new developments meet the highest quality standards with the homes they provide and the environment they create.
We will make sure our existing parks, nature reserves and recreational spaces continue to meet high standards and the needs of our residents. Some of the main areas of work include delivery of a new nature reserve at Fishlake Meadows and the letting of a new leisure management contract in 2017.
We will also begin redevelopment of Andover Leisure Centre and put forward plans to enhance Romsey Rapids during the lifetime of the plan.
We will continue to work closely with our residents and equip councillors with the resources they need to support their local communities, and I am pleased to say that the Community Asset Fund and Councillor Community Grant schemes will continue.
We will also help our communities to become more self sufficient by encouraging them to develop their own action plans and initiatives.
We will review and develop our Waste Strategy with an aim to increase recycling and reduce household waste.
These are just a few of the goals set out in the Corporate Plan. The specific actions that we will take forward against each of the priorities will be included in the Corporate Action Plan, which cabinet will consider in June.
I have no doubt that the coming years will prove as challenging, if not more challenging, than those we have already endured. But we shall meet the challenges we face with a determination to succeed.
I am proud to live in Test Valley, and together, we will ensure that our borough continues to go from strength to strength.