I want to wish every resident in Derby a happy and prosperous New Year.
We live in a fantastic city that is full of inspirational people. In my position as Leader of the Council, I get to see some of the best examples of Derby people working together to deliver for our communities. That is a privilege I will never take for granted.
But I am also under no illusions that 2017 will be another testing year for Derby City Council, with a further £28 million of cuts to be delivered by 2020.
Nevertheless, there are reasons to be optimistic and which show that Derby remains a safe, strong and ambitious city. In the year ahead, the Council will continue to find ways to deliver services differently in light of continued cuts to our budgets.
We will identify more ways to work with private and voluntary sector partners to create positive outcomes for the people of Derby, like the successful launch of School Breakfast Clubs for underprivileged children. We will look for more innovative ways to allow others to provide the services that the Council can no longer afford to run, such as the Cathedral Quarter 3aaa Christmas Ice Rink in the Market Place. And, we will continue to support community networks to develop, helping vulnerable residents to live as independently as possible.
Beyond the day-to-day services the Council provides, there will also be exciting developments in the coming year as we look to regenerate our city.
As part of our on-going budget consultation, we have identified £20 million of capital funding towards the construction of a replacement 50-metre pool at Moorways. Progress on the City Centre Masterplan also continues with the Council in on-going negotiations with a range of partners for the Assembly Rooms and Duckworth Square sites.
Managing our services effectively on shrinking budgets and delivering these long-term projects will be crucial to the development of our city over the next decade. It’s therefore crucial that we get them right first time.
I accept that many residents are eager to see progress and feel rightly aggrieved at the removal of services that are important to them. I too am frustrated and did not enter politics to dismantle cherished public services.
But given the reality of our current financial situation, our vision for Derby cannot be delivered overnight and will require more difficult decisions to be made.
Nevertheless, by providing services differently and planning sensibly for the future, we can weather the current storm and ensure that Derby is well placed to take advantage of the opportunities that will come our way.
Derby is my home and I want to make the best decisions for our residents, public services and hard-working council staff. That has always been my objective and is what will continue to motivate me in 2017.