Karen's Christmas message
It has been another busy 12 months at Wycombe District Council!
Way back in January, we kicked off the new year with a bang with the opening of the £35 million Wycombe Leisure Centre (left), which was closely followed by Waitrose and the High Wycombe Coachway and relocated park and ride service at the Handy X Hub. 2017 will see the beginning of the next phase of work at the site, which will eventually include a new hotel, offices and a children’s nursery.
Meanwhile, the Hughenden Quarter development, which includes the Hughenden Gardens, began to take shape and in the town centre the council renovated two old retail units and leased them out to the Red Squirrel Brewery Shop Emporium and The Works desert parlour.
A new corporate website was launched in April and will be soon followed in January by a new intranet site, Wycopedia, which has been named by you!
In May, we ran one of the quietest elections – the Police and Crime Commissioner election. Remember that? Perhaps only vaguely. The total percentage turnout of the eligible electorate in the Wycombe area was just 17.19 per cent.
Perhaps just as well because in June we went to the opposite extreme when we ran the European referendum for the Wycombe district area. This election, in stark contrast and many officers will have experienced at the polling stations, had a whopping turnout of 75.8 per cent of the electorate.
Planning held a six week public consultation on the draft Local Plan over the summer and received the highest amount of responses in 15 years. Work continues on the Local Plan, which sets out where homes, jobs and infrastructure will be created to 2033, with a view to submitting the plan in March.
The summer also saw our two flagship parks – The Rye and Higginson Park – retain their Green Flags, with the latter also playing host to the hugely successful Olympic and Paralympic homecoming event organised by the council which was attended by hundreds of residents medal-winning athletes.
In October, the four district councils published its first report on modernising local government in Buckinghamshire. That report was a high-level, outline strategic options report which looked at one, two and three unitary council models for Buckinghamshire, as well as focusing on the importance of radical transformation of some of the big ticket services like adult social care and children’s services.
And as you know, this work has now moved on and last week the councils said that we will be submitting a joint proposal to the Department for Communities and Local Government for two unitary authorities, based on a north/south split of Buckinghamshire. Further updates to follow in January.
It has been raining awards at QVR this year, with gongs for Parking, Housing, Building Control and the Wycombe Leisure Centre in November. Earlier in the year the council was also shortlisted for a prestigious Municipal Journal award for its Commercialism in the Property Estate.
And a new chapter in the history of the Wycombe Museum began this month after the service was transferred to the Wycombe Heritage and Arts Trust.
Phew! What a year and that’s only a snapshop of everything that happened this year!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your hard work during 2016 as the above would not have been possible without you. I wish you all a very happy and restful Christmas, and look forward to seeing you back, ready and refreshed in January, to go again next year!