South Kesteven District Council leader discusses plans for the future
After almost three years South Kesteven District Council was finally able to return to our council chamber for our annual meeting – another small step in the right direction as we adjust to life after what has hopefully been the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, writes council leader Kelham Cooke (Con).
It was an opportunity for me to outline South Kesteven District Council’s achievements and our ambitions for the future, as well as reflect on the immense change seen during this time, as we continue to reform South Kesteven to make it a better council for the future.
This was not only an opportunity for me to speak about how we work as a team at the council, but also the way we are reforming the services we provide, ranging from housing, arts, culture, property and planning through to waste services and regeneration of key sites in the district.
I am proud of the community leadership we provided throughout the pandemic to residents, businesses and communities, and that we were one of the top 10 councils in the country for sharing business support covid grants, setting a benchmark for local authorities, and the creation of the SK Community Hub which has much more to do into the future.
Our management restructure has created a much stronger, resilient and forward-looking senior team, as well as realising a £1.2m saving.
Together we have been proactive and transparent in addressing the challenges we have found along the way, such as with housing, contract management, performance management and managing our own assets.
What of the future? Well I believe it is looking positive and we can achieve so much more by continuing to work as a united team.
SKDC’s recent peer review confirmed a strong commitment to continuous improvement from the political and corporate leadership. It highlighted that we can be proud of what has been achieved and look ahead with confidence to reaching our full potential.
Our strong external partnerships show how far we have come in the past three years and provide huge impetus for taking this council forward to where we all want it to be, tackling areas for improvement along the way.
Despite inevitable challenges, there is so much to look forward to, a few to name below:
- A new economic development strategy covering all four corners of our district.
- Driving forward improvement and investment across our arts, culture and leisure, to further support physical and mental wellbeing.
- Securing removal of the improvement notice by the regulator of social housing.
- Continued and significant progress on the St Martin’s Park development in Stamford.
- Unlocking a major regeneration site in the centre of Grantham, by relocating our staff in a project which will save the council £300,000 a year.
- Progressing our waste depot replacement project to provide stability for our service to support our future growth in housing.
- Encouraging more people back into our arts centres with wide-ranging programmes appealing to the widest possible audience.
- Helping many more people through our charitable and community work.
It is an honour and privilege to serve as the leader of the council for my home area, where I grew up, went to school and where my friends and family live, and I remain as committed and determined as when I was first elected to the aim of making South Kesteven the best place in which to live, to work and visit, working alongside my colleagues to make this a reality.