As we set out in our Council Plan, published at the last Full Council meeting, we have a four year programme of priorities for Nottingham and I am pleased that at the start of 2020 we are working hard to achieve the ambitious targets laid out in the council plan.
We want to build or buy at least 1000 council or social houses for rent. We know that waiting for an appropriate home for themselves and their family is a big problem for too many in our city. From those finding themselves sleeping rough to those living in overcrowded conditions, as well as those who have spent months and years on the waiting list, all point to there being not enough homes in our city and we intend to do something about it. Of course if the government would return to councils all of the receipts made as a result of the sale of council houses rather than the proportion that we currently receive, this would make this task much easier. But irrespective of government support, we will do everything we can to achieve this ambition.
Our second main target is to create 15,000 new jobs in Nottingham. It is pleasing to see the cranes in the sky over the southern part of the city centre and to see the construction jobs that have been created by the exciting building work that is going on. We look forward as well to the opening of the new College Hub building, the Broadmarsh bus station and car park, the renovated castle in early 2021, the Broadmarsh shopping and leisure space, and the new city centre library, as further centres for employment in the city centre. Building taking place at Unity Square, plans for Crocus place as well as other developments in the South Side of the city are matched by housing developments in other parts of the city in Bestwood, Bilborough and at the Waterside in Colwick. We want to encourage new businesses to come to Nottingham to benefit from our wonderful public transport systems and forward looking environmental policies. We look forward to new developments at the former Imperial Tobacco Site on Thane Rd, on the former Boots Island site, on Blenheim Industrial Estate, on Glaisdale Drive and at the NG2 business park. We need to work together with our regional colleagues to argue for government investment in the East Midlands, in HS2, on the electrification of the Midlands Mainline and in regional projects that will provide much needed employment in our area. And we know that work makes a difference. As austerity continues, despite what Tory politicians say, we know that work and fairly paid work makes a difference to the lives of our citizens and we will do everything we can to create the conditions for jobs to be created.
The plans for our new central library are ambitious and exciting. Housing the best ‘Children’s Library’ in the UK in our brand new library space at the heart of the new broadmarsh area contributes to changing the area completely and will bring with it pedestrian friendly public space which will lend itself to citizens gathering for a variety of purposes and enjoying the space vacated by the removal of vehicles from Collin St. Giving children a love of reading is vital for the aspirations of the next generation. Screen based entertainment for our children makes that a challenge, but our young people need both; to be IT literate is a vital skill for the future, but as are good literacy skills and an imagination and curiosity that comes from an immersion in books from birth. That’s why our early years book gifting scheme is so important and why a linked ambition is to get 10000 children receiving free monthly books.
Our ambitions for our city include making it safer, by reducing both crime and anti-social behaviour. I’ve talked earlier about knife crime, but the rises in crime over the last two or three years, coinciding with government cuts to police funding, undermined the huge reductions in crime achieved by us in Nottingham in the previous decade, Crime and the fear of crime has a debilitating effect of our citizens’ wellbeing and anti-social behaviour has a nagging undermining of our community cohesion and quality of life. We will work through our dedicated community protection teams with the police and our communities to address crime and antisocial behaviour, doing everything we can to keep our citizens safe in their homes, on our streets and on line.
Our fifth main priority is to keep our city clean and to keep our neighbourhoods as clean as the city centre. This is a tough challenge but is one which we will prioritise. Our wonderful staff working across the city from early in the morning until late at night are vital in this task and we applaud their commitment, but they can’t achieve this target alone. Much of the work that they do would not be necessary if all of our citizens used bins properly, booked their bulky waste collections on our free system and picked up after their dogs and the council would not be so stretched in this area. I appeal to those living and visiting Nottingham in this new decade to play their part in keeping our city clean and I pay tribute to those who go out of their way as ‘Clean Champions’ and as part of community litter picks to clear up the rubbish dropped by others.
These are our priorities and they are some of our ambitions but there are many others. We want to lead a city where people get on with each other and live in harmony and treat each other with respect. Children should be safe and nurtured in our child friendly city, young people should have opportunities to learn in good schools and have a range of positive activities to get involved in and job opportunities. We need to work in strong partnerships between the council and other public institutions, with businesses, with our universities, with our communities and with voluntary and faith groups so that together we can build a better Nottingham. We all need to do everything we can to look after the planet we live on and to adopt policies in this city which improve our air quality and reduce our carbon footprint. The next generation are entitled to us doing what we can to reverse mistakes that we have made and improve the legacy that we leave them.
So as we start the 2020’s, we are ambitious for Nottingham. We are aware of the many challenges facing the people of Nottingham and the council, but we will work hard in partnership to achieve these ambitions.
Lord Mayor, the ambitions we have for our city are exciting. For years, Labour politicians have stood in this chamber and proudly represented the people of Nottingham guided by our clear values – to help build a safer, cleaner city that is ambitious for our residents that we can all be proud of. And we’ve achieved many great things as a Council over the last decade whilst enduring years of government austerity. This means that vital services that we all rely on have been squeezed to a point of crisis and millions of pounds have been shifted from those who need it the most in Nottingham and other cities in the midlands and the north, to more affluent areas in the south. Of course, these difficult times have led to challenges in delivering our ambitious commitments for the city, but despite these difficult times our ambition for our residents has never diminished.
Nottingham needs politicians who want to make our city an even better place and throughout the next decade we will continue to campaign for a Labour government which will rise to the challenges facing us, setting an ambitious vision, not only for our city, but the country as a whole.
Cllr David Mellen,
Leader of Nottingham City Council