Firstly, can I wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope you all had a good Christmas.
January is a time when many of us look forward to the year ahead and decide what we want to achieve.
As Leader of the council, I’d like to share with you what Wakefield Council hopes to achieve for our district in the coming months.
I know I speak on behalf of all elected member colleagues and council officers alike when I say we have an ambitious vision for the district. We want it to be a place where you can get employment with good wages, where people can maximise their potential with learning and training, where people can rent affordably or get on the property ladder and enjoy the benefits of strong economy. But we know we can’t do this alone, the future success of this district relies on both the public and private sector. This means that the relationships we develop with business, housing, and education providers will be fundamental in achieving our aspirations.
I can promise you that in 2016 we will continue to build effective partnerships with the public and private sectors, and work hard together to grow the district and help realise our ambitions.
Looking into 2016, one of the first jobs we have is to set the budget for the coming financial year. We’ve been seeking your views on this since December, but if you’ve not go round to taking part yet, please visit www.wakefield.gov.uk/budget
As I look further into the year, we have much to look forward to; April will see the return of the Tour de Yorkshire as it makes its way through Pontefract and the south east of the district. In May we celebrate the fifth anniversary of The Hepworth, an iconic and internationally renowned gallery which has brought 1.4 million people to Wakefield and £20m to the local economy since it first opened its doors in 2011. Work will begin to build a new pool in the South East of the district.
We will be continuing to deliver regeneration projects in our towns and city. 2016 will see major steps forward in schemes being delivered by our private sector partners, like the Prince of Wales Colliery site in Pontefract, the Five Towns Park in Castleford, and the development of a luxury hotel at Bretton Hall in Wakefield.
We are also hoping a devolution deal can be agreed. The key to unlocking the opportunities devolution could provide are based on working in partnership with our neighbours to build on the success we have already achieved as part of the Combined Authority.
So, as we embark on a new year I wish you well with your plans and resolutions. I look forward to working with all our partners and residents to make 2016 a year of solid achievement.