WOKING BOROUGH COUNCIL leader John Kingsbury recaps a fruitful year and looks forward to 2015.
“I BELIEVE 2014 has been a great year for Woking. Poppies all around the borough remind us all of the sacrifices made by so many as we commemorated the start of the First World War.
“Over the next four years we will continue to remember and add more poppies in recognition of those who gave their lives for us to enjoy the freedom we have today. If you get a chance, do go to see the The Horse at War: 1914-1918 exhibition at The Lightbox.
“The council have been busy making Woking a better place for all of us. No matter where we look – the Wellbeing Centre at The Vyne in Knaphill; the children’s playground in Woking Park; St Johns Memorial Hall; the Cycle Hub at the town’s station; new homes in Moor Lane, Brookwood Farm and Hoe Valley; the Scout and Guide HQ in Horsell; Market Walk; the Sheerwater Access Road; the new Asda in Albert Drive; Carluccio’s and Bill’s restaurants; the Surrey Hills sculpture in Wolsey Place – all of these have helped to improve our borough.
“We have seen new businesses come to Woking and existing ones expand – all good for our economy with low unemployment and more job opportunities.
“The Celebrate Woking activities have again demonstrated the strength of our community, whether at the Party in the Park, the Woking Fireworks, the Beer Festival or the second – and even more successful – Food Festival in the town centre.
“At the end of the year we bought Brookwood Cemetery to secure its future and restoration. It is an historic and environmental gem hidden in our midst and I hope over the coming years we will restore it to its initial glory for generations to come. I believe it will be one of the most important legacies this council will leave for its successors.
The New Year holds further challenges as once again we face substantial reductions in Government grant support. I believe we will be able to continue our successful track record of maintaining and enhancing services for our community while providing value for money to residents.
“During 2015 we will support the delivery of Hoe Valley School; provide at least 100 affordable homes through Thameswey; progress the provision of 224 affordable homes at Moor Lane; provide 75 affordable homes at Brookwood Farm; and another 500 family homes for sale at Moor Lane, Hoe Valley and Brookwood Farm.
“We are looking to complete the Horsell community buildings and new fire station, progress our Victoria Square development, and continue to work with businesses to stimulate local economy.
“One major challenge we face in 2015 is the review of the green belt. We are obliged to do so to comply with Government policies and our approved Local Plan. While it will raise many passions and concerns, we need to ensure there is sufficient space allocated to meet projected housing and leisure needs up to 2040.
“All will have a chance to express views before any changes are made – please work positively with us for the benefit of future generations.
“In closing, I hope you have enjoyed a Happy Christmas, and that we will all share a peaceful and prosperous New Year.”