Cleaner streets, economic recovery, major investment – Worcester City Council Leader sets out his priorities
Cleaner streets, support for the city's post-pandemic recovery, managing the investment of more than £40 million of Government funding in the city, tackling parking problems in residential areas, more action on problems caused by gulls, and helping residents to improve their neighbourhoods are at the top of the list.
Cllr Bayliss said: "The pandemic has tested us all in many ways but as we emerge from it, I am optimistic about Worcester's future and the opportunities we have before us to improve our community, economy and society.
"Residents told me repeatedly during the election that at the moment litter bins are too often over-flowing, the streets are not clean enough and there is too much rubbish lying around. I have heard that message loud and clear and it is why we are finding an additional quarter of a million pounds form the City Council's coffers to boost the budget for street cleaning this year."
There will be a drive to ensure that streets and public spaces are noticeably cleaner, with litter bins being emptied more regularly, and improvements to grass-cutting and flower displays in parks and at other sites. The Saturday skips service will be reintroduced in some areas of the city, to make it easier for residents to get rid of bulky items.
The budget for tackling problems caused by the city's gull population will be doubled from £30,000 to £60,000.
Cllr Bayliss said: "Another priority is to respond to the economic impacts of the pandemic and doing all we can to support the reopening of shops, restaurants and other businesses affected by Covid. We have identified extra resources to support this objective and we will be launching a high street vitality programme to breathe life back into city centre, including free days and evenings in our car parks to help bring people back in."
Bringing about a city renaissance is also high on Cllr Bayliss's to-do list, making the most of the unprecedented levels of investment which the City Council has secured from the Government. This includes £18m from the Future High Street Fund to revamp the area around Angel Place, £3m from the Cultural Development Fund for the creation of a new cultural quarter at the Arches, and £19.6m from the Towns Fund for a range of projects covering regeneration, transport and skills training.
Cllr Bayliss said: "This once-in-a-generation investment in Worcester gives us an unparalleled opportunity to build a City which provides opportunities for all and which addresses many of the long-term challenges we face such as traffic congestion, skills gaps, poor health and low quality employment. I am determined that this investment will be the catalyst for real change in communities right across our city and not just in the city centre."
He added: "We will also be addressing a number of issues that frustrate residents and businesses, including inconsiderate and illegal parking in residential areas that can – in some cases – stop emergency vehicles having the access they need.
"And we will be cracking down on people who flout planning and licensing laws, by allowing houses to fall into ruin or cutting trees or hedges that are protected by preservation orders."
Cllr Bayliss concluded: "Ultimately this is about taking a common sense approach to the essential things that can make a real difference to the quality of people's lives and life chances across Worcester, to make sure that this city is one we can all be proud of."