Speaker’s Corner: We are making progress, don’t let others spoil it

As we approach May’s local elections I felt it would be a good opportunity to reflect on the past four years which have brought both challenges and some great opportunities for our borough.

Speaker's Corner: Andrew Williams

We are all aware of the difficult economic situation which has faced the country and this has of course had an effect here in Dacorum.

But despite these challenges we have made the most of the opportunities given to us by the government. We have focused our efforts on supporting the borough and have invested to help both residents and businesses.

In 2012 we were able to again have control of our own housing stock having come out of the national system. This enabled us to more than double our spending on maintenance and improvements and for the first time in over 25 years build new council homes in the borough.

I was delighted to be able to visit the first new homes last week at St Peters Court in Gadebridge.

These homes are amongst the first of several sites under construction with more to commence in the next 12 months.

Our borough continues to benefit from a very strong business base with unemployment at a record low and employment at a record high.

Many companies have relocated to the area over the last few years and we will continue our work with the business community to ensure that we continue to offer the support needed to keep our local economy strong and successful.

Most significantly after some setbacks we have been able to make some real progress on our plans to regenerate the heart of Hemel including:

*The exciting refurbishment of the Old Town High Street

*The Marlowes pedestrian zone with work due to complete later this year

*Securing funding for the restoration of the Jellicoe Water Gardens, with the main area of work starting shortly

* The bus interchange and Waterhouse Street has commenced and will be completed by the autumn

* Work will also start in March on Bank Court which will provide an important and much improved link between the Marlowes pedestrian zone and the water gardens.

All of the projects will combine to make the town a far more pleasant place to visit helping to increase the number of visitors and shoppers which will encourage retailers to locate in the town.

Whilst we have been busy doing all these things we have also been working hard to make the council more efficient and continue the progress we have made to reduce our own costs and ensure the protection of our front line services.

Like many of you reading this I am a lifelong resident of the town and I am proud to call it home.

Over the coming months we will continue to see improvements which will include extending our current Hemel Evolution programme to include Gadebridge Park, providing us with a much improved recreational facility at the heart of our borough.

We are making real progress, don’t let others spoil it.