There’s no escaping the very challenging funding situation for our day-to day services presented in our council budget today, but there is another story, one of ambition, innovation and investment.
We promised to deliver major projects on time and in budget. This week we revealed plans for a new £40 million leisure centre on the site of the King Alfred in Hove, with three swimming pools, space for badminton and bowls, martial arts and dance, spinning and gym equipment and much, much more. The £8m the council will invest in it will come from money we are saving on maintaining the old centre, with the rest coming from new housing including affordable homes for rent through a social housing provider.
We promised to invest in preserving our city’s heritage. Work has begun on the £9 million scheme on the seafront at West Street to replace the crumbling Shelter Hall with a new one, and ensure our highways infrastructure then can withstand the pressures of modern traffic. That’s funded with a Government grant. Last week we secured £5 million of Heritage Lottery Funding to restore and improve the Royal Pavilion estate for future generations to enjoy, securing its future at the heart of our arts and tourism offer to visitors vital to our economy.
We pledged to build 500 new council homes in our first term; this week we announced that 240 of those council homes will have started construction in our first year. Next month we will bring forward our plans for over a thousand truly affordable rented homes for key workers.
We promised to focus on the basics like street cleaning and refuse collection. This week we began the replacement and refurbishment of communal bins across the city, and this month our new fly tipping enforcement team gets to work cracking down on people who dump rubbish in our streets.
We said we would boost jobs, skills and training. We have launched our Employment and Skills Task force and we are working on setting up an apprenticeship company to help small companies take on new trainees. We are working closely with our creative digital sector, City College and the universities on accelerating this work. The major projects in the pipeline will generate thousands of new jobs.
We said we would do everything we can to tackle poverty and rough sleeping. Our Fairness Commission is doing incredible work in bringing together the work to reduce inequality being done in the city and how we can take it to the next level, and our Rough Sleeping Summit last month brought a new focus and co-ordination to that urgent work.
We are working on new ideas to defend, grow and improve the services your council provides, despite the cuts. There is still time to enter our City Innovation Challenge if you have an idea that might help us do that. We are modernising our council to make it fit for the digital age, able to adapt to change and to better deliver what residents want.
With all this, the arrival of John Lewis, the Circus Street development, Preston Barracks regeneration and plans to build a new shopping centre, conference centre and arena, Brighton and Hove is under our leadership once again a place of ambition, innovation and investment.