28th Jun, 2022

Leader of Coventry City Council George Duggins' New Years message

May I begin by wishing all Observer readers a Happy New Year.

This is an exciting time for Coventry, and the New Year gives us the ideal opportunity to look ahead at what’s to come – and celebrate what has already been achieved.

The next 12 months – and beyond – marks a very important time for our city. Just 12 months ago, we received the news that Coventry had been awarded the title of UK City of Culture 2021.

Since then we have witnessed an explosion of interest and enthusiasm in the arts and culture scene in our city.

It has grown so much and we still have two years to go! It’s so exciting to think of what’s going to happen – and the opportunities it will bring to our city.

And that is not our only title. In 2019 we will be European City of Sport and host our Year of Wellbeing. Sport is such a big part of Coventry’s life – and next year will be a chance for us to celebrate it in all its forms.

It will tie in with the Year of Wellbeing, helping us to get more people active and laying the foundations for a healthier city in the years to come. On the sporting theme, our new waterpark ‘The Wave’ is set to open in the spring, which, along with the new 50m pool now under construction at the Alan Higgs Centre, will attract visitors from across the region.

The coming months will also see the final touches to work to open up Broadgate, and the next steps in transforming the Upper Precinct. That will join with improvements to the rail station and work at Friargate to create a great new look and feel for our city. That work is already bringing investment into Coventry, with three new restaurants recently opening their doors at Cathedral Lanes and plans continuing for a new shopping centre at City Centre South.

We are very proud of the changes we have made, and proud of many other achievements over the past year, including the way we have worked with partners to improve our city – something that has seen us shortlisted for the title of Council of the Year.

We launched ‘Cov on the Move’ in our parks, with 44 sites now home to fitness trails, and we have also brought in new cricket pitches to help people get healthy. We have staged major events including BBC’s Biggest Weekend, Godiva, Motofest and Pride; celebrated 100 years of the RAF; and won the honour of being a host city for netball at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

We have acted to combat concern over speeding motorists, paying for the installation of average speed cameras on two major routes and we continue to campaign for tougher sentences for dangerous drivers and work as a city of peace and reconciliation.

There are challenges ahead, with shrinking budgets and cuts by central government, but we will continue to improve the city and work to provide quality services for the people of Coventry, especially the most vulnerable. And alongside those challenges are great opportunities and so many reasons to be optimistic about the coming years.

Thank you to everyone for their work and support over 2018, and here’s to 2019 and all that will bring.

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