Leader’s New Year message for 2017
HALTON Council leader Rob Polhill has looked back on the borough’s achievements in 2016 as he wished residents well for the New Year.
Cllr Polhill, described the past year as ‘extremely challenging’ because of ongoing budget cuts and he slated the Government over social care funding and the ‘cold hand of austerity’.
Highlights for the leader of the year included the £20m Alstom technology centre and training academy in Widnes, developments at Sci-Tech Daresbury, work starting on the redevelopment of the Crosville depot site in Runcorn and progress on the Mersey Gateway bridge.
Cllr Polhill also thanked the borough’s volunteers.
He said: “There’s no getting away from the fact that 2016 was another extremely challenging year for the council.
“The deepening effects of Government cuts have further impinged on our ability to deliver the firstclass services we pride ourselves on here in Halton and the lack of commitment by the Govern- ment to social care – the very service that looks after our most vulnerable – remains deeply troubling.
“However, we have to look past the cold hand of austerity that continues to hold us in its grip.
“And if we do, then we can see there are welcome signs that Halton continues to punch above its weight – particularly in terms of attracting inward investment.
“We are delighted to be welcoming Alstom to the borough and its £20m technology centre and training academy, which could bring as many as 600 new jobs and scheduled to open in May 2017.
“Plus there are welcome new developments at Sci-Tech Daresbury, which remains a jewel in the crown of our business base.
“Additionally we have seen work start and progress well to redevelop the old Crosville site in Runcorn bringing further investment to the town centre.
“And, of course, the new Mersey crossing is now becoming a local landmark and should be open wi t h i n the year. “Our schools and colleges continue to perform excellently – 87% of our secondary schools are good or outstanding – compared with 84% nationally according to Ofsted, and our primary schools did even better with 91% compared to 84% nationally. “I am also proud of the achievements of our young people who continue to achieve excellent exam result year on year – well done everyone. “Despite the chal- lenges, the physical transformation of Halton, including investment in new visitor facilities, growing retail and leisure facilities and quality housing, means that Halton is working hard to maximise opportunities to ensure we deliver a brighter future for everyone who lives, works and visits our borough.
“Finally, I would like to thank all our volunteers, who give up their time to help those in their local communities, their help and support makes such a difference to the lives of so many.
“Wishing all readers and their families a peaceful and healthy 2017.” ●
Rob Polhill, leader of Halton Borough Council