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Leader's blog - October 2017

I’d like to start October’s blog by congratulating everyone who did so much to create a successful Warrington Festival.

Highlights of this great cultural celebration included the RivFest festival with Billy Bragg and the ever-popular Mela along with the English Half Marathon  - but the festival events will continue. The Warrington contemporary Arts Festival runs until 28 October and includes performance, music, theatre, exhibitions and events across Warrington. There is also an exhibition celebrating special events in the history of Warrington Museum, including the opening of the main art gallery in Oct 1877, which runs until next year.

I was delighted to attend the opening of the new temporary market which was a great affair. With the food court and clean and stylish surroundings I’m sure it will be a hit with customers. I’d encourage everyone to pop into the market if they get a chance – there really is something for everyone. The demolition of the old market building will take place this month and the new town centre will really start to take shape.

Warrington Borough Council has completed the acquisition of Birchwood Park. This is a significant investment in a valuable Warrington asset and should deliver a significant annual return of between £4 and £5m for the Council, in turn helping to protect Council services to the tune of £4-5m too. We will continue to find innovative ways to save and raise money as we face up to huge government cuts.

I will be discussing the recent government decision to impose arbitrary targets on ‘bed blocking’ with fines for Local Authorities with MPs and the Local Government Association. A safe and comfortable transition from hospital to home is a key priority for the NHS and ourselves but the targets should be part of a partner negotiation rather than unilateral imposition. 

The second part of the Western Link consultation is now completed. The highways team has chosen the amended red route which has meant that fewer households are likely to be negatively impacted by it and it was important that everyone responded to the consultation so we could make an informed decision. The council’s executive board will now vote on the preferred route before we decide whether to apply to the Department for Transport for the necessary funding.

Finally I would like to thank everyone who has contributed in Warrington’s Local Plan initial consultation. Although the draft of the plan isn’t published and consulted upon until next year it was important to get views on the initial concepts.

The local plan is crucial in guiding our own local growth and development ensuring we deliver the housing, business, jobs and infrastructure the borough needs over the next 20 years.
These proposals are the result of months of careful and considered planning, with a focus on delivering a sustainable future for Warrington. We will look carefully at all the responses to our consultation exercise and this will inform the draft plan which will be published next year. We will consult again on the draft plan to make sure the views of all interested parties are heard.  There will be examination in public by an Independent Government Inspector who will make the final decision, again after listening to the views of the residents of Warrington.