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Leader's blog - March 2018

At this time of year there are always difficult decisions to make in local government due to the painful cuts from central government funds.

The council has voted to increase Council Tax this year by 2.98%, with an additional 3% specifically for adult social care.  The council tax paid by the people of Warrington still remains one of the lowest rates in the North West and is much lower than many authorities of a similar size across the country. 
Since 2010, we have delivered £122m in savings as a result of cuts in funding from government.  By 2020, we will have to save at least a further £38m. The savings we’ve had to make since 2010 equate to around £1,300 per Warrington household, and between 2010 and 2020 our budgets will have been cut by more than a third.  We continue to work to provide the best services to Warrington despite the severity of the austerity measures taken by the government.

Last month saw the release Warrington’s housing strategy for 2018-2028 which sets out the key challenges facing Warrington and sets out investment priorities for the next 10 years.  The ambitious plan aims to raise standards to support residents and communities with a focus on housing that:
•         Is safe, clean, affordable, healthy, secure and sustainable
•         Meets the varying needs and aspirations
•         Meets standards that reduce fuel poverty, combat climate change and reduce pollution
•         Supports community cohesion

The strategy also identifies four key priorities
1. To provide new sustainable homes in places where people want to live.
2. To help people live at home, improve their independence, health and quality of life.
3. To make better use and improve the standards of existing housing stock so it is decent and safe.
4. To provide housing advice, information and a preventative service.

This is a really important strategy which has been developed to drive forward housing improvements across the borough over the next 10 years.
Warrington Borough Council’s executive board has also approved plans for the Omega Local Highways - Phase 3 project. The project will provide additional highway capacity, enhanced network resilience and improved pedestrian facilities for the wider West Warrington highway network, complementing other priority transport schemes the council is bringing forward in the next three years.

It will support the delivery of a residential housing scheme of around 1,100 homes within Omega in a location which has already been identified as one of the key housing sites for the borough. It will also support over 12,000 new jobs at Omega as well as supporting 7,000 existing jobs on Omega and Lingley Mere employment sites These important works form part of our commitment to improve the highways network in west Warrington, identifying our most severe pinch points, reducing congestion, improving journey times and supporting businesses.
We were pleased that the government announced the £3,685,904 for Warrington for the Centre Park Link project. The Centre Park Link proposes a bridge crossing across the Mersey from Chester Road, just north of Gainsborough Road. This crossing would join onto an extended Slutchers Lane leading from Wilson Patten Street. A new signal controlled junction is to be constructed at each end of the new link on Chester Road and Wilson Patten Street.
We are delighted to have once again been successful with a bid for major infrastructure funding. The plans for the Centre Park Link will deliver a new bridge and link road from Chester Rd to Slutchers Lane to alleviate traffic congestion around Bridge Foot and Chester Road. It will also provide a link to land south of Centre Park which currently has no access. The Centre Park Link project will also bring forward approximately 465 homes in a location that is within a walkable distance from the town centre and both railway stations.

The first round of Warrington Borough Council garden waste collections starts on 6 March for residents who have bought their green bin licences. If you haven’t bought your 2018 licence – there is still time. If you have paid recently but your sticker hasn’t yet arrived – don’t worry. Our computerised system means that, if you’ve paid, you’ll be on the list.