Liberal Democrat Group leader’s report for the AGM 2020.

It has been a difficult year but we have been active  in some very complex decisions. I will give you a brief summary.

  1. Major recruitment of senior officers has brought about change in how we operate. Polices were found to be outdated in some areas and so there has been a realignment of the Councils priorities and much work has been done in implementing Covid 19 restriction guidelines. We have worked very closely with our partners, especially the Realise foundation, so maximum support could be given to the most vulnerable. Much work was undertaken to make sure government grants were available.
  2. Town centre Regeneration plans include
  • A 10 year car park review to include a reduction in the cost of annual permits for businesses.
  • Improved CCTV in the Midway car park and a review of flooding issues within the car park.
  • More electric charging points for cars.
  • Rough sleepers outreach service introduced to address cross border issues with Stoke. The number of homeless in Newcastle remains in single figures, the problem is many more choose to sleep out.
  • Recently installed CCTV in town centre streets, at the request of the public.
  • Much work has been done looking at how we can increase the footfall in town, but this project has been hindered by present day restrictions. We are working with neighbouring towns to look at how we compare. Part of this work is looking at how the market can be revitalised to suit the present trends.
  • We have organised some ‘themed one off events’ which have proven popular.
  • Town deal to include the future of the high street project. Project in progress to include the Ryecroft site, leading into the Ironmarket, High street and Midway. Developer interested!
  1. Newcastle Council plan to be carbon neutral by 2030, work is in progress to make this happen. We are working with partners and Keele University on our Climate Change agenda. A working panel has been set up to move this forward. More on the web site.
  2. Delighted that the people of Kidsgrove have worked hard to make sure their new sports centre plans are going to happen at a cost of £ 6m. A much needed facility for the people of Kidsgrove. Some of you will have noticed Jubilee 2 big pool was closed down for some time due to a major leak in the walls. It is now mended at a cost to the original develops.
  3. A joint allocations housing plan has been updated recently. The main advantage being residents now make a single application rather than two separate ones if they are wanting new accommodations. Aspire housing are our other partner.
  4. We have recently published our Air Quality plan. (On the website.) government are telling us we need to bring our carbon emission ratings up to Euro 6 standard. As a result, one of the major changes we have to implement is a bus gate at peak times on the A53 on Etruria road. Private cars will not be able to access up the bank from the A500 at peak Times which will affect residents in May Bank, Porthill and Wolstanton.
  5. New recycling system was introduced earlier this year, most residents are very happy with this new system and much prefer it to the box system. Recycling rates improved but value of the material not as high under the co mingled system.
  6. Some will have seen the old Savoy cinema site development is now well underway in town centre. It was given permission as student accommodation, but due to the present virus, demand is not as high as expected. A recent application was granted to allow multi resident occupancy for the next two years. Parking of cars may be an issue however.
  7. Walleys quarry landfill sire remains a problem with regard to odour, an extensive piece of work is underway to look at odour and highway issues. A working group is cross examining the agencies involved and hope to report their findings early next year.
  8. The Local plan site allocation document is being rewritten at the moment. It will be coming out for consultation in the New Year.

Marion Reddish, December 2020

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