Covid changes some of Melton Council’s strategic aims
A drive to improve communications with residents, provide more support for unemployed and homeless people and promote more environmentally-friendly modes of travel such as cycling are key parts of Melton Borough Council’s refined strategic aims over the next four years.
The authority was due to launch its corporate strategy back in February but it was postponed when the challenges of the coronavirus lockdown dominated the focus of resources.
The plan, which covers the period to 2024, was finally approved at a full council meeting last week with a number of amendments added in the wake of the ongoing pandemic.
Council leader, Councillor Joe Orson, said: “As we anticipate an increase in unemployment and financial, and mental well-being needs, we are placing an even greater emphasis on supporting our community, learning from and sustaining the fantastic approach taken through our community support hub.
“The council’s commitment to improve council homes and landlord services remains unchanged, but now includes an additional focus on utilising existing and new stock to provider better temporary accommodation for those who need it; particularly when risks of homelessness are increasing.
“The Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated inequalities and made them more pronounced.
“The council’s commitment to inclusive growth, aligned with the government’s levelling up agenda, has never been more important.
“The strategy retains the clear focus on delivering a number of key priorities; including the manufacturing zones, using our assets for housing, securing a sustainable future for the Melton Sports Village and lobbying for a second GP surgery.
“It also refocuses activity on supporting the town centre recovery and expanding the rural pub scheme to support the wider hospitality and farming sector, which have been so affected by the current situation.”
The original corporate strategy was drawn up around a year ago using feedback from a residents’ survey, the Local Government Association Peer Review and the Local Industrial Strategy Economic Review.
A public consultation was held last winter - during December and January - and the document received a positive response.
The strategy, which was initially set to be released in April, has been refreshed to incorporate the evolving needs of the community in light of responding to Covid-19 with the main points covered in a short promotional video.
The council plans to upgrade its back office computer system and offical website to make it easier for residents to make contact and benefit from services.
The authority wants to improve the quality of its housing stock and provide more afforable properties to buy and to rent.
There will be an increased focus on working with employers to create jobs, with unemployement expected to rise markedly due to the effects of Covid, and focused support for farmers and hospitality businesses to consolidate Melton’s reputation as the rurual capital of food.
More enforcement action will be taken against litterers, fly tippers and those who allow their dogs to foul pavements and parks.
And there will be a concerted push to reduce carbon dioxide levels, with Councillor Orson commenting: “Covid-19 has shown to me and the council that people are changing their habits.
“A lot of people now work from home and we want to take this opportunity to encourage people to walk more and cycle more to increase the health benefits to the community.”
Edd de Coverly, the council’s chief executive, said: “We think we have got a really ambitious strategy which is going to make a real difference.
“One of the things we’ve really seen through this Covid experience is the way in which our communities have come together, worked together, to support our vulnerable residents.
“That’s something we want to build on and harness.”
To see more details on the council’s corporate strategy, go online to www.melton.gov.uk/corporatestrategy and visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTJjpRVZhag to watch a short video about the proposals.