A major fly-tipping crackdown, multi-million pound investment in highways, development of the UK’s first Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone and securing of hundreds of city centre jobs have been highlighted by the Conservative-Independent administration at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, in the first year of their ‘stronger together’ vision for the city.
This summer marks the first anniversary of a Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet led by Conservative & Independent councillors. In that time a number of major initiatives have been launched, including:
• The City Council’s HQ remaining in the Civic Centre in Stoke town, as promised in the Stoke Conservatives’ Manifesto.
• A £473m five-year capital investment programme, which is already seeing an extra £5m invested in highways improvements, by the Conservative Cabinet Member for Transport. The five-year programme will go on to see a £55m project developed by the council to build private sector housing, kick-starting the sector in the city and delivering income to the authority. A £10m initiative is to get under way to further improve the public realm in the city centre with new street furniture and infrastructure. A total of £12m has also been earmarked to improve the City Central Library and Archives.
• The Conservative Government approval given to create the country’s first Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone at Etruria Valley – a £1.5bn development opportunity across six sites in the city and Newcastle-under-Lyme along the A500 corridor, with tax incentives and streamlined planning processes to help businesses locate in the area.
• The securing of 400 new jobs at the new Smithfield development in the city centre, with the creation of the Water Plus joint venture between Severn Trent Water and United Utilities.
• An environmental task force, with a rapid response team clearing dumped rubbish and stiff enforcement action taken on those responsible for fly-tipping. In its first year, more than 5,000 cases have been dealt with proactively, and the average time taken to respond to resident calls is just 1.5 days. The new tough stance on culprits means that there are currently 480 ongoing prosecution investigations.
• A £6m rejuvenation of Hanley Park, with improvements already starting that will see a raft of landscaping works, restoration of the pavilion and boathouse, with £4.5m of that money successfully secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund.
• Stoke-on-Trent’s year as the UK’s European City of Sport, with a £3.5m investment to create a sporting legacy and raise the health and wellbeing of people across the city for the next three years. A huge programme of events is taking place throughout the year, which has already seen the staging of the European Corporate Soccer Cup, the Tour of Britain, Tour Series and – for the first time – the Women’s Tour race take place in the city, as well as the inaugural Lord Mayor’s Games for families and the expansion of a Street Games programme to positively engage with young people.
Conservative Deputy Council Leader Cllr Abi Brown said: “We have been working incredibly hard over the past 12 months to make sure the services we deliver and direction the council is heading in provides the support that residents and businesses need.
“The coalition has a really strong working relationship and as an authority we have forged strong links with government decision makers.
“We have already had a great success in securing the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone for our area which is transforming brownfield land at Etruria Valley and is paving the way for huge investment and jobs potential.
“We are doing all we can to make sure Stoke-on-Trent is heard at the very top table in national politics, so that our investment-ready land, skilled workforce, ambition to grow and go-ahead attitude is in the forefront of the minds of national decision makers.”