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Leader's Blog - August 2017

There has been a considerable amount to celebrate in the past few weeks.

The latest Key Stage 2 SATs results show an improvement in every area and the results were also above the national average across the board. This, along with the news that all of Warrington’s primary schools good or outstanding shows how well our school staff and children are doing.

We have also been awarded Green Flag status for 12 of our parks for the second year in a row. This standard is higher than our big city neighbours and just shows how much effort the Council puts into this area.

The announcement from the Rail Minister that Warrington Borough Council has been successful in its bid for £4.2m of funding for the Warrington West station. I would like to congratulate the team for their work to secure this grant. This station will be a great asset to west Warrington as we continue to attract more businesses to the area and create more jobs.

Warrington’s Local Plan has reached the Preferred Development Option stage with the consultation due to last for eight weeks.
The Preferred Development Option sets out how Warrington can meet its development needs of approximately 24,000 new homes and 381 hectares of employment land, over the next 20 years.
The Government has said we need to build 24,000 new homes and if we don't have a plan they will come in and impose developments on us so we are trying to control our own destiny.   The plan is not just about building homes it also talks about investment in local transport infrastructure, community facilities and green spaces.
Detailed work carried out by the council has found that it is possible to deliver approximately 15,000 new homes and 129 hectares of employment in existing urban areas. This means that land will need to be released from the Green Belt to deliver approximately 9,000 new homes and 252 hectares for employment.
I would encourage everyone in the borough to engage with this consultation and make your views known.

We have already had a very thorough consultation on the routes for the Western Link Road. This consultation will be studied very closely before a decision on he preferred route is taken in November. We understand that this has been controversial and would like to thank residents for their views.

In the town centre the new temporary market looks wonderful and is nearly ready to open. The multi-storey car park is also coming along nicely and our vision for the town centre is really taking shape.

Warrington Borough Council has been awarded the Workplace Wellbeing Charter accreditation following an assessment by the Health@Work organisation.
The council gained ‘excellence’ level for work done in relation to absence management and smoking cessation and the ‘achievement’ level for leadership, mental health, physical activity and advice on alcohol consumption.

Omega is alive with activity. The northern site is now completely full with Haydock Commercial Vehicles having taken the final plot to provide a 35,000 sq. ft. Scania commercial vehicle servicing centre which will include providing servicing the vehicles for some of its fellow Omega occupiers. The Scania facility will open later this year.

The residential aspect of Omega is also now well underway on Omega South with Miller Homes starting to build the first of 250 homes at the south eastern corner of the site near to Burtonwood Road and with the first residential road now completed. Further up Whittle Avenue at Sharon way the £12.5 million junction improvement works to Junction 8 roundabout are visibly taking shape and the new slip road is set to open next March.

By the end of the year Omega will be home to 7000 new jobs and have 4.2 million square foot of logistics and industrial space built.

The market will move across into temporary home at the end of August with a formal opening taking place on 2 September. This is an exciting and historic moment in its 750 year history.

The building will house the market for two years whilst the new, permanent market hall is being built opposite. The permanent hall, when open in 2019, will incorporate the beautiful, Grade II listed Boots building facade on Bridge Street and will be a square building accessible from all sides.

The contractor for the next stage build of the Time Square scheme, Vinci, has now been appointed and following the market move will start work almost immediately on the demolition of the current market hall with the pyramid roof and then in constructing on the main elements of the scheme; the cinema, restaurants, new council offices and the new permanent market hall.

Finally we will be sad to see Stephen Reddy, our executive director for Families and Wellbeing, leaving the authority. Steve has been a great asset to the council and we all wish him the very best of luck in his new role as Director of Children's Services in Liverpool.