Leader of West Lancashire Borough Council’s Christmas and New Year message
Councillor Yvonne Gagen, Leader of West Lancashire Borough Council, reflects on the year past and looks forward to 2024:
"It has been an incredibly busy 12 months in the Borough, with so much to be proud of.
"Big changes have been happening in our Leisure provision, with the operation of our Leisure centres in Skelmersdale, Ormskirk and Burscough coming back 'in house', allowing us to really focus on delivering quality services. It's been wonderful to welcome all of our new colleagues into our West Lancs family.
"We also launched our new vison for the Beacon Country Park, and during the summer, we asked you for your thoughts on how you'd like to see this important community asset develop. We've listened to your views and we'll be moving plans forward and considering all options next year. I'm really excited to see how this project develops and benefits everyone in the Borough as well as attracting new visitors and investment.
"There were also some incredible events including Ormskirk's Bank Holiday Festival, the Skelmersdale Show, the Green Fayre, Medieval Festival and our Christmas light switch ons. It's always a pleasure to see people coming together with family and friends to enjoy themselves, boosting our community spirit and cohesion. These events take a huge amount of organisation, so thank you to everyone, including officers and our partners, for pulling out all the stops to stage such amazing events.
"As a Council, we've invested heavily in our communities over the last year, including a recent award of £1.3m of Community Infrastructure Levy funding for 17 projects across the Borough that will see significant improvements to children’s playgrounds and sports facilities, and support for GP surgeries among many other benefits. We've also approved plans for £4.2m in UKSPF funding to support our businesses, workforce and communities as well as committing to a Community Wealth Building strategy that will help our Borough prosper. These projects make a real, tangible difference to people's lives and I'm delighted we have been able to support these initiatives.
"We know the environment and combating climate change is a priority for our residents and we share their concerns, so in 2023, across 16 sites, we worked with BP Pulse to install 31 new electric vehicle charge points, with outlets to charge 62 cars. Tawd Valley Developments (TVD), our home building company, also built four eco-friendly homes on the Fairlie development in Skelmersdale that will eventually see 50 homes of varying types offered for affordable rent and rent-to-buy. Tawd Valley Developments are also working towards the delivery of a solar farm just outside Skelmersdale. We'll continue to look for new and ambitious ways to become a greener council as we move into 2024 and beyond.
"The cost of living crisis is presenting many of us with real financial challenges. That's why we launched initiatives like Wrap up West Lancs to gift pre-loved winter coats to anyone who needed them, and the Free Uniforms For Schools (FUSS) scheme to provide surplus school uniforms to those struggling to meet the costs of new uniforms for their children. I'm delighted to say both schemes were hugely successful.
"Christmas can be a tough time, particularly when finances are tight. If you think we may be able to help, please reach out to us. There are lots of resources on our website outlining where we may be able to assist you with things like money advice, benefits, and health and wellbeing, along with contact details for other organisations.
"As we look forward to 2024, we will continue to work hard for everyone in the Borough to deliver quality services while offering value for money in what we hope will be another year of progress and opportunity.
"I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year."
Councillor Yvonne Gagen, Leader of West Lancashire Borough Council