2 min read
05 Jan

Dear friends

2020 was not the year we were expecting, but certainly one that we’ll never forget! With thousands of Covid deaths, the degradation of our economy and billions racked up in debt, it would be easy to miss that this year has also brought many blessings. 

Not in generations has our community worked together in such a powerful manner. In selfless and courageous ways our charities, businesses and community organisations have all risen to the challenge. Together we’ve supported the most vulnerable and positively dealt with the local impact of the pandemic to help reduce the inevitable damage to lives and livelihoods. 

We’ve taken local action:

  • To bring our rough sleepers and homeless off the streets, providing new beginnings for most. We’ve worked with local charities to give meals, practical support and guidance to those needing help to get back on their feet.
  • To provide shielding for our vulnerable, delivering meals, medicines and other essentials so they can stay safe.
  • To distribute millions of pounds in grant funding to hundreds of local businesses. We’ve also partnered to give advice, guidance and loans to many more.

Yet, just when we had hoped the new year would bring fresh beginnings, infection rates are climbing as we come to terms with the new coronavirus strain.  Our Covid infections have increased to 216 cases per 100,000 residents, with Coventry at 241 cases and an average of 374 across England. The Tier 4 decision will be reviewed again in mid-January, while the focus is now on safely returning pupils to primary schools on Monday. Secondary schools will re-open in phases by 18 January, with university students scheduled to return during February.

In the midst of the second wave, it is perhaps worth recalling that it is always darkest before the dawn. 2021 does offer new hope. With our local testing centres up and running, whilst preparations for mass vaccination are well underway. Work too on our Recovery Plan is progressing with:

  • Approvals and funding in place for two new secondary schools, hundreds of affordable houses, extensive new parks and open green spaces.
  • Construction on track for key projects including Leamington Station forecourt; Whitnash Civic Centre; Racing Club Warwick all-weather pitch and the Sea Scouts HQ, while the first trees were planted this autumn in our district-wide programme.
  • Plans for the renewal of Kenilworth Leisure facilities as well as the establishment of a Local Housing Company to develop 600 new homes.

Preparations for the Commonwealth ‘friendly’ Games are ongoing, when in just 18 months we’ll be hosting not only the Lawn Bowls, but also the Cycling Road Race, hopefully welcoming thousands of visitors over the two weeks of competition.

In 2021, we can also expect to see:

  • The Mega Lab start its operations bringing 2,000 jobs and wider opportunities for local businesses.
  • Our relationship with Stratford District Council strengthen with our multi-million-pound joint waste contacts, and work starting in earnest on our South Warwickshire Local Plan.
  • Our Climate Emergency Action Plan renewed and refocused thanks to contributions from the People’s Inquiry and investment from our Climate Action Fund.

For us, the brighter new year really began on Boxing Day. We were delighted that our bid to the government’s Future High Street Fund had succeeded - winning a £10m grant as part of an investment package worth over £20m for the regeneration of Leamington Town Centre. May we wish you every happiness in the exciting year ahead.

Cllr Andrew Day

Leader, Warwick District Council

Chris Elliott

Chief Executive, Warwick District Council