ON June 8, the halfway mark was reached in this mayoral term.
Looking back on the priorities I set as I took office, I am pleased with the progress made and impatient to achieve more.
Given the obstruction from councillors and officers and the impact of the funding reductions imposed by the government, I think significant progress has been made.
Children’s services are slowly but significantly improving, and the Education Service is finally coming good. Last year was the first time no secondary school in Doncaster was below the government threshold.
I am delighted to see more schools applying for academy status – the LEA has been no asset to good education in the borough.
The world knows that Doncaster is open for business. The borough has a wonderful location, which it has never taken advantage of. Not any more.
We have secured finance for both White Rose Way and the FARRRS project to Doncaster Airport. These developments will bring many thousands of jobs to Doncaster.
The borough is now a major tourist attraction.
The Yorkshire Wildlife Park is a nationally known venue – the first walk through wildlife park in Britain. The Minster, Mansion House, Conisbrough Castle, and now officially the best market in Britain, are also major stops on the tourist trail.
The St. Leger Festival has been regenerated into an 11 day event with attractions to suit all, as well as top class racing with the world’s oldest classic race as its culmination.
It is vitally important Doncaster is accessible by car. It is ludicrous we have placed bus users (16%) in front of car owners (70%) in the council’s priorities. It is time different modes of transport were treated more equally. The Quality Bus Corridor has been an unmitigated disaster, and a complete waste of £16 million pounds.
I remain strongly committed to tackling problems caused by crime and anti-social behaviour. Young people who drop litter can pay a £75 fine or take part in a litter pick. We have moved nuisance neighbours, and I am keen to put a stop to any behaviour which adversely affects people’s daily lives.
Too often the council has acted in a dictatorial manner, lecturing local people, and not dealing with complaints in a courteous manner. This has changed. The council is the servant of the public, not its master.
The “Tell the Mayor” scheme is still there – any constructive ideas from any resident will be considered. I look forward to hearing from you, and I assure everyone that my first and only objective is to do what is best for the people of Doncaster.