Labour Council Leader David Baines says:
One year ago today I was honoured to be elected Leader of St Helens Labour Group, and to become Leader of St Helens Council.
I’ve been fortunate to see first-hand just how much great work is happening in St Helens – at the Council, in our communities, by businesses, volunteers, charities, sports clubs and more. We’re seeing the value of this community spirit and good work during the current crisis, and like everyone else I’ve been inspired by the way everyone has rallied together to support one another.
I want to take this opportunity to highlight just some of the things we’ve achieved together as a Council in the last 12 months. Thanks to my Cabinet, my Labour Group, and the outstanding support of Council staff and partners in the community we have:
• Appointed a new Chief Executive, Kath O’Dwyer, with the experience and the skills to drive significant change in the way the Council works;
• Appointed a new Executive Director of Place Services, Lisa Harris, completing an all-female top team of senior officers, who will drive the regeneration of the borough and commercial activity;
• Introduced a senior management restructure, with new posts for an Assistant Chief Executive to modernise the Council, and an Assistant Director for Commercial Activity to find new ways of generating income for services that don’t hit residents in the pocket;
• Introduced the One Council modernisation programme, bringing services and the way we deliver them into the 21st century;
• Approved delivery of regeneration at the former Parkside colliery site in Newton-le-Willows, delivering on a site which has sat empty for nearly 30 years;
• Agreed a regeneration partnership with English Cities Fund, opening up regeneration opportunities not just in St Helens and Earlestown town centres but across the whole borough;
• Set up the Town Deal Board with private and public sector partners to bid for £25m government funding for St Helens;
• Begun the journey of bringing the Gamble and Earlestown Town Hall back into full public use – they will NOT be sold off;
• Frozen councillor allowances for the first time;
• Supported a move to all-out elections to save even more money and give the Council and residents certainty for four-year periods;
• Scrapped St Helens First magazine, instead committing to communicating with residents in a more cost-effective, modern way;
• And of course, responded to the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19, setting up #StHelensTogether, supporting our most vulnerable residents, community groups, charities and businesses through the crisis.
Through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, my colleagues in the Labour Group and I will continue to focus on delivery, to support residents, businesses and our communities, and to do the best we can for St Helens. Together we can achieve great things.