Leader's New Year Message.

January 1, 2009 12:00 AM

Leader of Rochdale Council Alan Taylor - Wishing You All a Happy New Year!I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone in Rochdale a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2009. I also want to thank the people of Borough for their support over the last year, particularly given my recent ill-health.

Over the last year we have worked hard to make your council tax go further, providing good quality services that enhance the daily lives of our local people and businesses. We are well aware that many of you will be feeling the pinch as the credit crunch bites harder.

I want to make sure that the Council does all it can to help you during this time. Help is just a phone call or an email away. For more information see our website www.rochdale.gov.uk/beatthecrunch. If you run a business in the Borough, help is at hand, with a range of support aimed at helping you fight back - and this includes the simple things too.

This year we agreed a 3.8% council tax increase - the lowest for 12 years - and next year we will be delivering the lowest council tax increase for 13 years. We made a commitment to deliver on the council's promises to improve the quality of life of people in the Borough while keeping the rise in council tax down. Money spent on key priorities like the environment, extra police officers for each township and on the youth service is already having an impact on people's lives.

Our achievements are many, but here are just a few to illustrate some of the great work that has been attained by our staff - work that really does make a difference to the local community.

Five parks across the Borough achieved the coveted 'Green Flag' status. Right now we're encouraging you all to join in the Big Clean. This New Year campaign will see residents and council workers joining forces to tackle litter, graffiti, flytipping and other environmental problems. Already this year volunteers have turned out in force to help clean up their local parks, sweep their streets and collect tonnes of rubbish, but there's more we can do. I would really like to see even more people joining in this time and doing their bit to make the Borough cleaner and greener.

We were delighted this year to announce that our recycling rate had shot up to 35% - doubling the amount of recycled waste in just two years. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone in our Borough for the dedication they have shown to recycling.

We now have more joint working with the NHS to improve the health of people across the Borough. This new integrated approach will see us working together in different ways with the aim of improving health and life chances, ensuring people have the best social and economic infrastructure, potential for employment and a high quality of life.

Recently, the referendum regarding the Transport Innovation Fund Bid was held and Rochdale gave a resounding no vote. As Leader of our Council it is my job to support proposals that I believe will benefit Rochdale. However, I accept the decision of the people of our Borough and we will now continue to look at other ways to bring in funding to improve Rochdale's public transport system. The extension of the Metrolink to Rochdale Town Centre, in particular, is vital to the big plans we have for the re-development of the town centre.

It's been a superb year for Rochdale Football Club and it's only right that we recognised their achievement with the award of Freedom of the Borough. They treated us to a fabulous day out at Wembley back in May and although the result was not what we all hoped, I have every confidence that they can go one better in 2009.

There is real momentum in all our town centre plans, so despite the delay for Rochdale town centre, I am pleased to see things are moving forward. By 2011 in Rochdale town centre, we will have a riverside civic centre and new transport interchange, then work on the exciting retail element will start. The re-run process will be a fresh start and all developers will be given the same opportunities.

Over the next year, we aim to build on these successes and make even more improvements to the services we provide.

I wish each and every person in the Borough and their families a very Happy New Year. 2009 will bring many challenges, and I hope you will all share my ambitions for the Borough in the year ahead.

Councillor Alan Taylor

Leader of the Council