After my first year as a Town Councillor I am writing to inform readers of things I have done, and what I feel are some of the key issues facing the Council. I have spent some time on research, to find out how the Business Park is working and communicating with related organisations.
As a member of the Personnel Sub-committee, I was involved in recruiting a new business manager for the golf course and a new officer who will organise the Neighbourhood Plan. This is your plan, and we have recruited a local manager to oversee the project. The job will be to engage with the public to guide planning in the future. You will be asked to join steering groups to ensure the plan stays focussed on what people want.
The fireworks display presented Councillors with a daunting task and safety concerns dictated the responsible course was to cancel last year, but plans are now underway to address cost and safety concerns. After a difficult year when we suffered some poor weather conditions, the golf professional left. The Council made policy changes and recruited a new manager, Julie Welsh who has made a great start.
Great work has been done to highlight the problems at West Park, and a Friends of West Park group has been set up to improve its overall look.
Gary Hale from Town Centre owners Bisham Group came to a Council meeting with Centre Manager Brian Haldane. to give an overview of work being done in the centre. The emphasis is on opening the centre, to show what is offered behind the dour buildings.
I had many walks around the centre with my granddaughter and it is a much nicer place than before. The progress is quite dramatic and there are a number of new shops. I asked Gary if he was recruiting tenants for the shops, hoping business owners would take a look around and decide to move in. He assured me that the owners are always actively marketing to encourage new tenants. Newton Aycliffe residents have played a major part in pressing for these improvements and welcoming new tenants.
Further concerns are on-going in relation to the market. The consensus of those I canvassed, is for keeping the market. Desire alone is not enough and a lot of work needs to be done on ideas to make progress.
I have been to many PACT meetings and I would urge that you pop in to your particular ward meeting. The meetings help to keep your neighbourhood free from anti-social behaviour.
I would like to thank those councilors, officers and members of the public who have guided and helped me through my first year.
Councillor Jim Atkinson
New Councillor Reports on first Year