Dear Sir

As we head towards local Council elections, I would like to convey my sincere thanks for the trust that Newton Aycliffe residents placed in me when you chose me to represent you on both governing bodies in 2017.

I would also like to say congratulations on the results from the choices you made throughout Town and County. Both Councils have performed well given the extreme pressure they have had to face, and the challenges they met head on. Austerity, Government Council Grant cuts along with growing Town Centre retail pressure, the competitive assaults on Hospitality, Tourism, Manufacturing and Small Businesses … all these challenges made services, budgets and governance extremely difficult. Yet both Councils coped well with resolute management strategies returning healthy balances and reserves to take on the new challenges inevitably heading towards us in the coming Covid aftermath.

The difficulties are only in their infancy and many seasoned Councillors who have done their bit are now heading for retirement. New faces and new ideas are inevitable, but that sits alongside training from old-hands with experience. I am confident the resolute determination of our experienced voters will once again study the field, choose wisely and retain the experience whilst sifting the newcomers and seating the worthy.

It must be said that the taxpayers’ money has to work hand in glove within the system. This has been the case throughout my tenure. We are fortunate that residents of Newton Aycliffe are aware of their civic responsibilities, they are a source of strength and inspiration for the Councillors and the service operators they support. The Residents Associations are testament to that, borne out by the fact they created themselves in the first place and have proceeded with projects that benefit our communities.

In addition, there are positive initiatives in business projects in Newton Aycliffe for the Town to be proud and excited about. A new school for Vane Road, new housing estates Eldon Whins, the Livin affordable housing project at Clarence Green with Copelaw in the pipeline.

Let’s not forget a Durham County crown jewel, our Aycliffe Village Business Park, siting the University Technical College, Hitachi, the new huge industrial development project Forest Park, with the Aycliffe Business Community binding this together. They hold regular meetings coordinating with Business Durham and providing an essential communication link for existing companies and any prospective new business venture networking and looking for advice.

Alongside these major projects, the local County Councillors have been busy working with residents assisting them to channel grant money for worthy causes in Aycliffe Village and Newton Aycliffe through the tax payers Area Action Partnership GAMP.

I have really enjoyed the experience, I am privileged and proud to have represented you for the last four years.

Cllr Jim Atkinson

Aycliffe East DCC

Aycliffe Central GATC