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Leader's Blog - April 2017

This month we will put our official bid in to be City of Culture 2021.

This could be an exciting time for Warrington as we start to grow our cultural offering in line with our ambitions to be a New City. We have already made Warrington a great place to do business. Now it’s time for our leisure and culture to move forward towards a vibrant future that will make us more than just the third biggest economy in the north west but also a great place to visit.

The Spring Budget was perplexing. The additional measures for Health and Social Care which, although cautiously welcomed, are only a short term solution and will only buy time before the radical overhaul that is required. Already we are seeing the providers of care expressing the need to improve their rates. We need more care not the same more expensive care for our residents.
The hundreds of millions of pounds that is to be put into new free schools and grammar schools is not needed and will be socially divisive and a very large waste of public money. In the meantime, our existing schools are expected to find significant budget savings because of the unfair “National Fair Funding” policy

With the cuts from central government we have to look to save and generate money as best we can to protect essential services. One of these measures was a review of the Senior Management Team led by the Chief Executive. This will produce efficiencies of approximately £300k.
Demonstrating our innovation in raising funds rather than cutting – we have been nominated for another award. The council is one of five local authorities shortlisted in the ‘Innovation in Finance’ category of the 2017 MJ Local Government Achievement Awards, one of the major events in the public sector calendar.
Warrington has been shortlisted for its focus on ‘doing things differently’ and working creatively to develop a strong, commercially-focused financial model. This has yielded an average return for the council of six percent per annum over the past two years, supporting the local economy and helping mitigate the impact of the cuts.
We are also pleased to announce three new tenants have been secured at The Base, which means there are now more than 80 people employed there. The three new tenants are: Avanite, a software engineering company which moved in last months and took two offices of around 800sqft;  Olive Property Construction Ltd – which took a 477sqft office and will move in this month and National Skills Academy for Nuclear - taking a large 1,508sqft office starting from July

Building Better Opportunities multi-agency Big Lottery Fund / ESF funded programme, “New Leaf” is an innovative project, targeting individuals furthest away from the labour market in the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area, to help them in their journey towards employment.
Led by Warrington-based Golden Gates housing Trust, working in partnership with 30 other organisations, New Leaf will support 2,800 individuals over a three year period, providing a tailored service, giving individual support and direction.
This project will improve people’s life chances by building better opportunities for education, training and employment. It is aimed at people furthest from the labour market, who face significant disadvantages and barriers to social inclusion.

Helen Wray and Robert Phimister, two of the Management Trainees who are on our shared graduate development programme with Cheshire West and Chester, entered “Young Local Authority of the Year”. Teams of two represent councils from across the UK.  Competing against councils from across the country, they achieved a third place finish, with a 'stylish, erudite' paper about the fashionable mistrust of experts.