Merry Christmas from the leader

Published December 24, 2018 at 10:45

The end of the year is approaching so I wanted to reflect on the last year and also look forward to 2019.

In many ways, it’s been a tough year for the Council but we have achieved a lot and I hope many people agree with me that the borough is in a better shape than it was at the start of the year. Some highlights include:

  • People can see Spinning Point making tangible progress. Together Housing are settling into the refurbished town hall and we will soon be breaking ground on the bus station. I know lots of people are getting excited about the development and what it will become. It is contributing to a buzz around Rawtenstall.
  • Bacup is much improved. The £2m this Council secured and then managed successfully is showing real benefits. And it’s only the start of the journey. I believe exciting times lie ahead for the town.
  • There has been progress in Haslingden but there is a lot more that needs to be done. We will continue to try to bring in resources to transform it.
  • We want to try to deliver more improvements in Waterfoot, Stacksteads, Edenfield and Whitworth
  • We are pushing forward with securing a rail link for this borough. We have brought other councils including Lancashire County Council, MPs and the Mayor of Greater Manchester on board and they are now all behind this project
  • It was amazing to see the community come together for the important 100 year anniversary of World War One
  • Our projects under the Living Well, Living Better have improved our borough’s health.
  • We have been working well with our businesses. Invest in Rossendale has been successfully launched.
  • Ski Rossendale is making improvements with our help. The Whitaker is flourishing through our support
  • Our parks are looking better. I am amazed by the number of positive comments I receive. Stubbylee looks fantastic
  • New pump tracks have been installed
  • We have introduced a scheme which has already made a positive impact to clamp down on dog fouling and littering
  • We have invested in our refuse collection fleet making in more efficient and effective
  • We continue to attract nationally recognised sports events such as Northern Grip to Rossendale bringing people from across the county here.

We continue to wrestle with the challenge of balancing our budget. The local government finance settlement has recently been announced and while there were some positives to be taken from it, it doesn’t reverse the reduction in funding Councils have faced in the last few years. So we have to continue to make tough decisions and we have to continue to bring in new investment and funding and explore other income streams which we can use to improve all our towns and Rossendale as a whole.

It is essential we invest in and further develop our economy as this will boost our council tax take and a lot of the decisions we have taken aim to do that. We can reinvest this money in improving our services and the borough.

We will also continue to lobby Lancashire County Council to try to make sure Rossendale is not disproportionately affected by their funding reductions programme.

While we have challenges,  and we will not shy away from meeting those challenges, there is a lot to be positive about. Residents will see big projects being delivered and we are in a good position to bring in more funding for our towns. We pledge to make progress on the issues that matter to people and we will continue to work closely with our partners such as the NHS and influence what they do so we can get the best deal we can for the borough.

Like all councils, we get criticism. Some fair as we do get things wrong. Some of it unfair although we are always willing to listen and try to explain our policies and decisions. I know passion can sometimes boil over but it is wrong when disagreements end up in personal abuse. I hope in 2019 we can continue to disagree with each other but in a civil manner without resorting to abuse.

With what is happening on a national level, there is a high level of uncertainty about what the future holds. But I think if we all work together, we can make the borough a better place.

I want to end by paying special tribute to our army of volunteers and also our superb community groups like Civic Pride, Bacup Now and countless others. Without them, this borough would be in a worse state. I look forward to working with them in 2019.

I hope everyone in Rossendale has a safe and peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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