Southwold mayor, Melanie Tucker, looks back on a year of ‘political surprises’ and offers 2017 wishlist
PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 January 2017
2016 has been a year of political surprises, leaving 48pc of the UK’s population perplexed at the apparent triumph of mendacity and credulity in one of the world’s oldest democracies, and 52pc of the population delighted and enthused that the UK has a better chance of determining its own destiny outside Europe.
Whatever your opinion, we face a period of significant uncertainty in 2017.
At a local level we have been subject to a period of change, with central government and district authorities passing down responsibility to town councils without appropriate funding, resulting in a real threat to services in coastal communities.
In Southwold we have a hardworking town council with a clear vision to be the successful town on the East Anglian coast - but we do face some challenges.
Given the uncertainty here is my wish list for 2017:
A successful campaign by Therese Coffey MP, Michael Ladd and Sue Allen our Waveney District Councillors to persuade the Treasury to reduce the astronomic increase in business rates in Southwold.
The 160pc increase is the biggest in Suffolk by a country mile, (av. 77pc Aldeburgh, 5pc Woodbridge), and a real threat to retaining independent traders in our high street.
Providing a different and unique high street experience with local traders is vital to Southwold’s attractiveness and its future security.
We have a reputation for ‘doing different’.
That’s what makes us attractive and enables Southwold to contribute many millions to the Waveney economy each year.
More input into the town from national chains who trade here and enjoy the use of the Southwold brand name.
The Coop have started by generously providing wine and food for almost 500 people after our community carol service.
I would like to see more chains making a contribution to events.
If we see a continued decline in the value of sterling more demand for ‘staycations’ to enhance tourism in Southwold.
That the Sizewell C plans do no cause a transport bottleneck on the A12, reducing access to Southwold and the surrounding villages- this will be death to our economies.
And on the same topic – could we see investment in new rolling stock by Abellio Greater Anglia to ensure a more reliable train service for individuals and businesses alike.
More progress being made bringing the harbour back into local control in Southwold.
I would like to encourage more involvement in events and activities from those who live in Southwold all the time, and those who live here part of the time.
We are one community and we need to work together to ensure a strong future for the town.
More volunteers - of all ages - coming forward to join the Southwold and Reydon Corps of Drums, a great band which lifts our spirits and enhances our civic events.
Seeing improvements to the entrance to the town including a start on our plans for the development and improvement of our Station Road site as a leading edge business hub.
Keeping all the WDC run public toilets open in Southwold.
Hope that Waveney makes the right decision about dogs on the beach, keeping in mind the quality of life and enjoyment of open spaces for those who live here.
If 2016 has taught us anything, it is that we can’t assume that our long-term plans will always be relevant or even deliverable. So what we’ll all need is more time to think about our town’s future strategy and perhaps be more prepared to consider radical new approaches to long-term challenges.
And finally, a heartfelt wish for the return of the mayoral chains which were stolen in a robbery at the town hall in December. The perpetrators have stolen 200 years of Southwold’s history and we would like it back please.
I know there are some tall orders here. But a town mayor can wish…
Melanie Tucker, Mayor of Southwold.
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