Chairman’s speech celebrates council’s achievements and plans

County Hall, Matlock.
County Hall, Matlock.

Derbyshire County Council chairman George Wharmby outlined the authority’s achievements and set out its plans for the coming year in his speech to the annual meeting of the council.

Elected for a second year as chairman, he highlighted some of the council’s key decisions to:

* Freeze the council’s share of council tax for the second year

* Spend £120 million to improve roads, schools and buildings to help promote growth and jobs across the county

* Create 500 apprenticeships over the next four years and support for a further 200 opportunities with local businesses

* Build a new £14.5 million school for Tibshelf to open by January 2014

* Spend almost £1.5 million to support the county’s seven community transport schemes

* Invest £800,000 in the Western Link road at the council’s largest-ever regeneration project at Markham Vale

* Set aside £7.5 million to back local bids for BT cash to secure faster broadband connection

* Build a new £4 million one-stop-shop for Derbyshire history to house the county’s record office and local studies library

* Provide around £450,000 in Community Action and Sport Action grants to voluntary and independent groups.

Cllr Wharmby used the opportunity to release details of the council’s new plans for the next 12 months including:

* Almost £200 million transforming residential care for older people to provide 1,600 low rent or to buy apartments

* A £1 million Big Society Capital fund to support the development and improvement of premises for use by voluntary groups - £200,000 to be set aside to buy land for use by allotment societies

* Home Health checks to make sure homes are safe from fire and accidents and secure from theft

* A new Road Work Centre to better target resources and ensure a fair and consistent service across the county’s entire road network

* £100,000 to target malnutrition and dehydration in older people.

He also paid tribute to the council’s “hard working” and “much maligned” staff who he said are “prepared to go the extra mile”. There was praise too, for Derbyshire’s Big Society - the army of volunteers and community groups “working tirelessly to improve the quality of all our lives”.

Cllr Wharmby said he would continue to do his best to promote Derbyshire and the council. He was also looking forward to an “extra special” year which will see the Olympic torch being carried through the county and taking part in many activities to celebrate Her Majesty the Queens’s Diamond Jubilee.