Blueprint focus is growth not cuts - The Evesham Observer

Blueprint focus is growth not cuts

Evesham Editorial 18th Oct, 2016 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016   0

AN AMBITIOUS five-year plan for the future of Worcestershire has been unveiled by county council chiefs – including promises to tackle congestion and improving the county’s schools.

The ‘Shaping Worcestershire’s Future’ blueprint was revealed on Thursday (October 6) and sets out the council’s aims for 2017 to 2022.

The blueprint focuses on a number of priorities for the authority, including creating more jobs and bringing county salaries in line with other counties, making sure more youngsters attend more good and outstanding schools, reducing the amount of rubbish sent to landfill and helping older people lead more independent lives.

The 15 page document will replace the county council’s current ‘Future Fit’ plan and councillors will vote on the blueprint at a council meeting in November.

Revealing the plan, County Council leader, Coun Simon Geraghty said the blueprint focused on growing the economy, rather than on cuts in a clear break with the previous leadership at County Hall.

“The message I’m putting out is there are two ways of closing the gap in the medium to long term over the next five years,” Coun Geraghty said.

“I’m really keen to see how do we grow the income base, how do we use our assets better to close that gap, rather than just savings and efficiencies.

“There will still need to be savings and efficiencies, I don’t shy away from that, but hopefully if we grow the income base then that reduces the amount of savings we need to make.

“I think it’s a realistic vision over the next five years to say we can grow our revenue base, we will still need to look at how to do things more efficiently, we may still need to make difficult decisions, but it may reduce the amount of difficult decisions.

The Conservative leader at the County Hall also said he hopes the blueprint would help raise the skills of the county’s workforce to help Worcestershire’s economy continue to grow into the future.

“We’ve got one of the fastest growing local economies in the country which is great to have Worcestershire in that position, but we want to make sure we can sustain that into the future,” he added.

“That’s about making sure we fix the infrastructure, making sure that people can get around the county and tackling those congestion issues and pinch points, but it is also making sure people have got the right skills.

“We need to work with schools and colleges so people are achieving what they need to achieve, but they’ve also got the right skills for the economy in the future,” he added.

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