THE LEADER of Coventry City Council says 2016 could be the year that everything changes for the better across the city – if challenges can be met successfully.
In a New Year message to Coventry people, Coun Ann Lucas believes 2016 will be crucial for the city as it aims to build on successes in 2015.
The continued transformation of the city centre and the growth for car manufacturing giant Jaguar Land Rover were amongst the highlights of this year.
Coun Lucas opened her New Year’s message reflecting on the last 12 months stating that 2015 has been a “whirlwind” 12 months and another year of new beginnings alongside some sad endings.
She added: “It’s difficult to single out just one highlight of the year, but it’s hard to underestimate the importance of Jaguar Land Rover’s announcement about its planned expansion.
“JLR’s success is Coventry’s success – as it grows from strength to strength in the future we will make sure its global headquarters stay in Coventry and that local people benefit from its growth.”
Another highlight for Coun Lucas was the opening of new restaurants and bars in Cathedral Lanes.
Coun Lucas said: “For years people have wanted a better evening out in the city centre and now it’s beginning to happen.
“Friargate, our new business district by the railway station, will play a key part in the continuing regeneration of the city centre.
“The completion of the new bridge deck that links the station to the rest of the city centre this year was another important step forward.”
“But there have been huge challenges for us – as a Council and a city.
“We continue to remain under massive financial pressures.
“The reality behind losing around half our grant from government over the past five years is that we’ve had to make some very difficult choices about services we’ve took for granted.
“No-one comes into politics to make the kind of decisions the government is forcing on us.
“But we will remain, as a Council, focused on support to the most vulnerable with the diminishing resources we have while we deliver jobs, economic prosperity and growth for the city and its people.”
Coun Lucas ended her New Year’s message reflecting on the loss of Coventry City football club legend Jimmy Hill and former deputy leader of the council Phil Townshend.
She concluded: “For many of us, 2015 has had its sad and difficult moments, too.
“Everyone who has lost someone special to them this year will be taking some time to think about them as the old year comes to an end.
“There’s no doubt that 2015 saw us begin to change the face of our city for the better in many ways.
“2016 will see the pace increase with more successes for the city as we work to become a top ten city again.”