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The Leader's Blog - July 2016

It has been a momentous and tumultuous month in national politics and, while the focus has been on what divides us, in Warrington we will focus on what unites us.

There are several events in July that really show the sort of borough that Warrington is – an inclusive and community-minded one.

This started of course with 2016’s Walking Day. This is still a great day for the whole town to get together as a community. We will be doing our utmost to support this fine local tradition in spite of news from Cheshire Police that they will be withdrawing their funding.

Also on July 1st was the commemoration of the Battle of the Somme. It is 100 years since the start of a battle that would cost the lives of more than a million men. British and French forces were joined by troops from Australia, Africa, West Indies and India and we took a moment to reflect on what they sacrificed in the name of peace. A service was held at the Town Hall at 7.30am with prayers and hymns led by The Rev Paul Wilson. Councillors and the Mayor were joined by representatives of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment and the Regimental Association

On July 10th Walton Hall gardens will play host to Disability Awareness Day. This is the 25th anniversary of an event that has inspired charities in India and Uganda to start events of their own along similar lines. We are proud to sponsor this event.

On July 24th we have the Weca Mela in Queen’s Gardens, Palmyra Square, which is sure to be another vibrant and colourful event. The event will feature art, food and performances from a variety of cultures. The event’s motto is “celebrating diversity and building community cohesion”.

Also this month we will have a chance to celebrate Warrington Town’s success in winning the league and gaining promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division when they play in the Peace Cup against Crewe United, from Northern Ireland. The Council is hosting a Civic Event on Friday 29th July that joins together a ‘historic event’ - the visit of Crewe United for the Peace Cup with a celebration of Warrington Town’s League success.
The event will take place at the Town Hall with a civic reception hosted by the Mayor.

Looking back for a moment, over the past few months we have been developing a Cheshire and Warrington Devolution Deal with the two Cheshire local authorities. However, the timetable is too rushed and has not given us enough time to consider the risks and opportunities of any deal. We have therefore put the process on ‘pause’ so that the matter can be carefully considered.

I also attended the  Sub Regional Conference on Science, Innovation at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. Given last week’s referendum vote and the turmoil that’s happening  in London at a national political level we need sub-regional partnerships more than ever so that we can deliver projects in our communities.

Meanwhile, in the town centre, more than 20,000 sq ft of previously vacant commercial floor-space is now occupied. This includes Crawshaws the butchers and Prezzo restaurant, along with Anima which is a jazz music venue. Demolition of the market multi-storey car park has started which is signalling the progress of the Time Square Development.

More positive news came when we launched Cheshire and Warrington’s Enterprise Zone, the Cheshire Science Corridor at Warrington’s Birchwood Science Park.  The Enterprise Zone is expected to lever in approximately £100m additional investment. Also in Birchwood, you will have seen in the media that the Birchwood Pinchpoint scheme is now complete on time and under budget. The scheme has been very well received by residents, employees and businesses in Birchwood.

Of everything happening in July though the last, but by no means least, is Warrington Wolves’ visit to Leigh to play Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in the Challenge Cup semi-final on July 31st. I would like to wish the lads the best of luck and hopefully Warrington’s Barmy Army will have another trip to Wembley. This is another occasion that unites the whole borough.