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Cllr Jason Zadrozny

One year on...

It’s hard to believe that it has been a year since the Prime Minister put us into a national lockdown on 23 March 2020. At that time I never would have believed we’d still be living under lockdown restrictions 12 months on. But as we reach one year on from the first lockdown, I can look back on the past 12 months as Leader of Ashfield District Council and be proud of how Ashfield has come together as a community and how the Council has gone above and beyond to deliver services to residents.

Those first few weeks as we all adapted to a new way of living were full of uncertainty and the unknown. Working from home, home schooling, daily exercise, queues at the supermarket were all things that became the norm. But despite this uncertainty, Ashfield District Council staff, like so many front line workers, came into their own. I couldn’t be prouder of how we have continued to deliver every front line service, and additional services on top of that. You’ll have heard me say this several times before, but we are the only Council to deliver a full waste collection throughout the pandemic. On top of this we delivered extra waste campaigns including Skip into Summer, Bag it! and recently the BIG Spring Clean. All of which demonstrate our commitment to residents and making Ashfield a cleaner place to live, work and visit.

Our town centres have taken a hit with the closures of non-essential retailers and hospitality. We continue to support business across the District and with the reopening of the high street on the horizon our town centre, business support and environmental health teams are working with businesses to ensure a successful reopening. You’ll have recently read about our submission to the Towns Fund that could bring up to £50m to Sutton and Kirkby town centres, and the £6.2m that has already been secured for Sutton as part of the Future High Streets fund. These will bring several exciting projects, including renovating the existing Sutton Community Academy theatre, a maker space and business hub in Sutton, a new Kirkby indoor market, improvements to Kirkby railway station plus much more.

We know how vital our parks and green spaces have been throughout the pandemic. We have a £1.8m parks and green spaces investment programme that is seeing improvements across the District including new play equipment and footpath and access improvements.

Exercise has become such an important part of our daily lives, and I know from speaking to residents how much you are missing gyms and exercising in our leisure centres. Even when closed our leisure centres have played a key part in the pandemic opening as testing centres. With their reopening on the horizon we are excited to welcome residents back. Our leisure transformation plans have continued throughout, construction works at the new Kirkby leisure centre are well under way and we have announced major improvements at both Hucknall and Lammas leisure centres.

There have been some incredible examples of how Ashfield has pulled together with incredible community spirit, but there has also been experiences of great loss. In April last year we lost a great councillor to coronavirus, Cllr Anthony Brewer was a fantastic man and friend. The loss of Tony brought home the reality of coronavirus and the impact it has had on so many families across the District. To remember all those we have lost to the virus, a memorial stone has been placed in the garden at the Kings Mill hospital entrance of Kings Mill Reservoir.

As we take the next step on the governments road map out of lockdown, I can look back on the past year and say that despite the uncertainty, difficulties and loss, I am proud of how our community has pulled together. Thank you to everyone that has and continues to go above and beyond.

Cllr Jason Zadrozny,
Leader of Ashfield District Council