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Council sets out four-year plan

Test Valley Borough Council’s cabinet is due to consider the authority’s new four-year plan at a meeting on 13 March. The new corporate plan, Growing Our Potential, sets out the council’s priorities for 2019 to 2023. Highlights include a focus on town centres, local communities, supporting people who live and work in the area and the environment.

The council consulted more than 2,000 residents on their local priorities during summer 2018, with officers and councillors attending more than 70 community events across the borough. The authority also published an online survey to enable the public to submit their feedback. Residents highlighted their ambitions and aspirations for Test Valley’s town centres and were keen to see more events and activities as well as more family friendly restaurants and leisure facilities. They also said that they wanted to take part in more leisure activities and make the most of the borough’s green spaces, with more accessible and better linked walking and cycling routes.

In addition, many residents wanted more opportunities to recycle, along with clearer information about what they could recycle in Test Valley. They raised the importance of community spirit and the need for people to help their neighbours and get involved in community activities but viewed time as a barrier to this. The council considered this feedback alongside statistical information, existing strategies and government policy to determine the authority’s aims and ambitions for the coming four years.

In the plan, the council describes the “once in a generation opportunity” to respond to the changing face of the high street and the need to improve the appearance of town centres while future-proofing them by creating places for people live, shop, work and spend their leisure time. The authority has also indicated that it is committed to working with local communities and helping them to access funding opportunities, resources and support. It will also ensure the supply of homes in the area meets current and future housing needs.

Tackling homelessness remains a key area of focus along with growing the quantity and quality of jobs in the borough. There is also a commitment to making the most of the area’s parks and countryside and increasing recycling. The authority will publish a Corporate Action Plan (CAP) alongside the corporate plan which will include the specific actions and projects that the council will take forward against each of the priorities. The CAP will run from 2019 to 2023 and will be updated annually.

Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Phil North, said: “We are an ambitious and innovative council and our ultimate aim is to ensure that we look after our borough and local communities to the best of our ability. Inevitably, we have to prioritise the resources available to us, and our residents were keen for us to focus on our town centres and local economy, rural communities, access to decent homes and looking after our local environment. The new plan reflects this and sets out our aspirations for the coming years.

I would like to say a big thank you to all those who took part in the consultation and shared all the key areas they wanted the council to work on over the next four years and beyond.”

If approved by cabinet, the corporate plan will then be considered at a full council meeting in April.