The year 2018 / 2019 has been another incredibly busy one for Crewe Town Council. It has also been a significantly impactful year for both the Town Council and people of Crewe. There has been much good work done over the last 12 months, and as we enter into 2019 / 2020, we realise that there is much more good work still to be done.
In May 2018, the Town Council introduced entered into a new Committee Structure. We did this for two reasons: the first reason, was that the previous Committee Structure had not been reviewed since the inception of Crewe Town Council in 2013; the second reason, is that we wanted to eliminate any overlap that existed within the various remits of Committees, allowing for those Committees much more focused, and to be able to formulate areas of special interest.
The Finance and Governance Committee was born out of what were once the Strategic Steering Group and Finance and Resources Committee respectively. This Committee is responsible for ensuring that strategy is coordinating the strategy is coordinated across all Committees; as well maintaining strategic oversight for the general operations of the Council in areas such as finance, budget management, risk management, internal and external audit as well as a programme of policy review.
The Town Development Committee came from what was once the Economic Development Committee, the events programme from what was once the Community and Environment Committee and matters related to the Town Centre from the Community Plan Committee. This Committee is responsible for the delivery and commissioning of the events programme; as well as the promotion and marketing of Crewe as a business, retail, tourism and leisure destination.
The Community Plan Committee, which was constituted in 2016, was the only addition to the previous Committee structure, and went on to absorb all other matters from what was once the Community and Environment Committee. The remit for this Committee is to oversee the delivery of the Community Plan and support the delivery of improvement in the social lives of those who live, work or visit the town.
The Planning Committee is the only original Committee of the Town Council, but has now absorbed matters related to Transportation from the Community Plan Committee. The remit of the Committee is to oversee all regulatory matters and other functions; as well as setting policy and strategy in relation to housing and transportation.
Now then, what is the significance of that in respect the budget? It is significant for two reasons: the first, is that it provides context over the way in which the Town Council carries out its business; the second, is that every year those Committees submit budget requests which are a measure of work undertaken over the course of the current year against strategy, ambitions and aspirations for the following year.
The work of the Town Council, and indeed the Committee Structure, is governed by a set of strategic objectives – which represent the broader strategy, ambitions and aspirations of the Town Council – and are determining factors in everything that the Town Council does. There are three strategic objectives: Creating a sense of community; Generating civic pride; and, Encouraging economic development.
During the last year, there have been plenty of examples which demonstrate both those strategic objectives as a reflection of the work which was has been undertaken by the Town Council.
Some examples of creating a sense of community:-
- The Town Council has a wide-ranging and far-reaching events programme. Sometimes this is in the form of direct delivery such as TrAction , Lumen and more recently the Tree of Light; but we also Commission or support other events within the town such as Community Impact Days, which connect local people with uniformed services; Carer’s Information Days, which are a vital way of connecting carers with support services which are available to them; the Crewe Steampunk convivial, which this year will be receiving a fresh approach; the Cosmopolitan Food Festival, which is ranked in the top 10 of those events; and, Chalk It Up, an International Pavement Arts Festival which we hope to see return this summer; plus many, many more through the Small Grants Scheme whereby we award £25,000 to community, voluntary and faith sector organisation each and every year.
- The Town Council have committed £10,000 for three years to provide support for a Destinations Worker facilitated by the YMCA who is actively engaged in homelessness. To date, this post has worked incredibly well in supporting those community and voluntary organisations who are doing so much in this area already – The YMCA, Chance – Changing Lives, LATH – Looking After The Homeless, Churches Together in Crewe, The Salvation Army, The Lighthouse Centre and even the Cheshire East Homeless Team to name a few.
- The Destinations Worker has been the catalyst for Cheshire East Council receiving government funding from the Ministry of Housing which now means that we are able to do more to support homeless and vulnerable people whether it be accommodation, receiving support for substance misuse and, of course, instances where there is mental health involved.
- The Town Council are also actively working alongside The Lighthouse Centre on the Always Ahead Project – an initiative which is designed to bring the former Flag Lane Swimming Baths back into use a community facility to support homelessness and vulnerability – as the Town Council previously set aside up to £5,000 to help with costs related to the project, and last year, the Mayor of Crewe donated a sum of more £2,000 pounds from monies which were raised to support homelessness over the year 2017 / 2018.
- In November 2018, the Community Plan Committee launched What’s Happening on North Street as the first Partnership Centre for Crewe – this was a three-year journey – but has led to the creation of such things as a Friendship Group to help those facing loneliness, social isolation and ill-health; providing a safe space whereby a local LGBTQ+ support group can meet. The tagline for the Partnership Centre is “Creating Opportunity through experience”. We see this as an innovative and inclusive way of the Town Council being able to deliver more for the people of Crewe whilst actively supporting other groups and organisations.
Some examples of generating civic pride:-
- The most obvious example would be the Crewe Ranger Service – which was initially a joint endeavour between Crewe Town Council and ANSA – and public support for the Crewe Ranger Service has not only been overwhelming in terms of how that service has been received, but also how badly needed it is. Because of how well the Crewe Ranger Service has worked, Crewe Town Council has been able to secure further funding from Cheshire East which will contribute to an Engagement Officer – a project which is designed to work in terms of both information and education about the correct methods for disposing of waste and litter. In July 2018, the Crewe Ranger was increased to allow for the addition of a second Crewe Ranger; and in 2019, that service will come under the direct employment of Crewe Town Council.
- The Town Council have been actively working alongside the residents of the Railway Cottages to help preserve what a significant, and much-loved part of the heritage of the town.
- This in-turn helped the Town Council to establish a Heritage Working Group comprising of members from the Local History Society, U3A and others. The Working Group will be undertaking extensive exercises in the form a People Register and Asset Register – both things which will allow to significant contributions and landmarks within the town – and part of this will come in the form a “Blue Plaque Scheme”. The first plaque is soon to be located at Mirion House, Earle Street which, of course, was the home of the very first Mayor of Crewe Dr. James Atkinson.
- The Town Council also spend £23,000 a year on floriculture for the Town Centre, and a further sum of £3,000 from the current budget has gone to expanding that scheme in other parts of the town.
- There is also the work of the Town Council Planning Committee – and whilst the Town Council are not directly responsible for matters related to planning – that Committee has been able to clearly demonstrate the level of impact which the Town Council can have as a consultative body within the planning process both in terms of respect for the town, and the effective use of space within the town.
Some examples of encouraging economic development:-
- In 2017, we came to an agreement with Cheshire East Council over joint funding which secured the services of a Town Centre Project Officer on a two-year contract, and in light of plans for the regeneration of the Royal Arcade site and Markets, as well as the overall success of that post, 2019 will see the Town Centre Project Officer become full-time under the direct management of the Town Council. This means that Town Council will be equipped to maintain high-level, strategic involvement as we move through the construction phase whilst also creating an opening dialogue with both the developer of the Royal Arcade site, and the soon-to-be new Market Operator so that we can actively work a strong retail offer, which is best for the town, and inline with what people want to see.
- In 2018, the Town Council took the lead on a new strategic initiative concerning Place Branding, which is all designed to promote Crewe as the business, retail, tourism and leisure destination that we know it can and should be.
- As a result, the Town Council have entered into an exciting partnership with Staffordshire University which will provide a wealth of expertise and knowledge to help us realise the future potential of the town.
- Following on from this, 2019 will see work commence the establishment of a Business Improvement District, or BID, which will help to ensure much needed investment in the local area.
- The Town Council, as we have for many years, will continue to play a leading role in The Crewe Pledge, which initially started out as a Youth Employment Partnership, and is designed to provide enhanced pathways for young people in terms of obtaining skills, training, qualifications, apprenticeships and employment.
- In 2018, the Town Council worked alongside the Department for Work and Pensions, the Cheshire East Supported Employment Team and others to facilitate an event which looked at the recruitment practices of local businesses so as to open up for opportunities for those with more complex needs.
- This correlates to work across previous years, and which is still very much ongoing whereby the Town Council actively work to support community, voluntary and faith sector organisations who work with groups of supported adults to provide greater pathways for those people to obtain key life skills and work-based skills.
All of this contributes towards Crewe Town Council being what we have always said we are – a voice for Crewe – because we believe that people want us to focus on the real issues which effect their day-to-day lives. We believe that people want their Town Council to focus on issues of homelessness, social isolation and loneliness. We believe that people want their Town Council to focus on building resilient and integrated and communities. We believe that people want their Town Council to focus on taking measures which ensure the economic prosperity of the town, so that we can turn the tide on this embattled retail climate, and give people a place where they are truly proud to live and work.
But what about the numbers?
Crewe is predominantly made up of properties which are either Band A or Band D in terms of Council Tax. The numbers are as follows: -
For a Band A property, the element of Council Tax which people pay to Crewe Town Council will see an increase from £33 to £42. At £42 per year, this means that Crewe Town Council will cost as little as £0.80 per week, or as little as £0.11 per day.
For a Band D property, the element of Council Tax which people pay to Crewe Town Council will see an increase from £49 to £62. At £62 per year, this means that Crewe Town Council will cost as little as £1.20 per week, or as little as £0.17 per day.