In 2019, we have continued to invest in our communities, helping residents keep safe and well, and enabling them to lead prosperous and connected lives.
We’ve maintained our commitment to the popular Imagination Library scheme, which gifts free books to children every month from birth until their fifth birthday first brought to us by local MP Andrew Percy. It is now the most successful such scheme in the world.
Children in North Lincolnshire have been receiving our area’s best standard of education ever in 2019. Nine out of ten schools are rated Good or Outstanding by OfSTED, which has led in part to North Lincolnshire being named the best place in the UK to raise children by Country Living magazine. We were also awarded the status of one of the top ten most productive councils in the country.
Elsewhere in education, September saw the opening of the first part of the University Campus North Lincolnshire following a significant Government cash investment. After transforming the former Civic Centre, the opening of UCNL was a milestone moment for our area, increasing the amount of higher education provision, and sending a strong message to the business sector that we have the higher-level skills needed to support growth.
Record numbers of businesses have enquired about investing and building their industries in North Lincolnshire in 2019. In February, work started on a new access road at Normanby Enterprise Park. The Government-funded £1m project will open up 60 acres of land for development, and could create up to 1,700 more jobs in our area.
In March, the regeneration of Scunthorpe town centre took a huge step forward with the opening of St John’s Market. The new indoor market, spread over two floors, has increased footfall in that area of the town centre, with residents supporting our independent traders.
Our free car parking initiative continues to support our town centres, encouraging residents and visitors to spend more time relaxing, shopping, and meeting with friends and relatives in Scunthorpe, Ashby, Brigg and elsewhere.
In 2020, we will look to develop the Scunthorpe Town Centre Masterplan which will set out the next steps for regeneration in the town. We’re able to access up to £49m of Government funding to help bring vacant units back into use and revitalise the town centre, and we expect to see further private-sector investment too. I have already received really strong representation on this from the new MP for Scunthorpe, Holly Mumby-Croft, she is keen to work with the council to help drive this investment forward.
To the west of Scunthorpe, work will progress on the detrunking of the M181 and the construction of a northern roundabout. This project will significantly ease the pressure on Berkeley Circle, and open up prime development land.
In May, our ruling Conservative group secured a mandate for the next four years, increasing our majority and adding to our number of councillors. I’m pleased that we won the confidence of the electorate once again, and they’ve shown their support for our priorities at the ballot box.
Looking ahead, we will continue to cut our impact on the environment in 2020, and encourage residents and businesses to be more sustainable through more environmentally friendly policies. We’re also working with local community groups and other organisations to plant thousands more trees.
We will also continue to connect more with our communities through the launch of the Residents’ Panel. The consultative body will launch early in the New Year and be made up of thousands of residents who will be called upon to share their views on council plans, policies and projects.
We’ll continue to build on the successes of this year as we move into 2020; helping North Lincolnshire be the best place to live and work.