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Leader warns of “challenging times ahead” for Lichfield District Council

The leader of Lichfield District Council has admitted the local authority faces “challenging times” in 2014.

Cllr Mike Wilcox made his comment as part of a New Year message to local residents.

He was looking ahead to 2014 and reflecting on 2013 which saw the council forced to make severe cuts to its budget as part of the Fit for the Future programme.

Cllr Mike Wilcox

Cllr Mike Wilcox

“Looking back on 2013, it has been a year full of highlights, but it’s also been a year when we’ve had to make some difficult decisions,” he said.

“Much like our residents, many of whom are seeing their finances squeezed, as a council we face challenging times ahead to deal with the reduction in our funding as a result of government cuts. However, I am confident we can work together to shape the council in the right way.

“To prepare for this loss in funding, we launched a programme called Fit for the Future. Its first phase has already seen us approving changes to a number of services to save around £1 million.

“We are continuing to review all our services to see where more savings can be made and we are developing different ways to get peoples’ ideas and thoughts on how we can tackle this funding challenge.”

Local residents are also being asked to email fitforthefuture@lichfielddc.gov.uk for details of when they can have their say on the council going forward.

As well as acknowledging the challenges facing Lichfield District Council, Cllr Wilcox was also able to reflect on more positive memories of 2013.

“Despite having to face hard choices, there has been much to celebrate over the past year,” he added. “In April, we warmly welcomed HRH The Princess Royal to Beacon Park.

“It was an honour to show Princess Anne all the improvements and she very much enjoyed visiting our historic park, as well as all the community events we held for the visit.

“Thousands of people enjoyed Lichfield Food Festival and Lichfield Proms towards the end of summer. We also celebrated the city achieving Silver Gilt in the Heart of England in Bloom for the second year running.

“In early autumn we welcomed the police’s new customer services desk, which opened in the reception of our council offices. Lichfield Heritage Weekend also returned for a very successful two days.

“In November we were all delighted to open The Friary Car Park and to see work get underway on Beacon Park’s new skate park, which I know is eagerly anticipated by lots of local skaters.

“At the end of December we welcomed swimmers back to Friary Grange Leisure Centre, following the completion of the £500,000 project to refurbish the pool changing rooms, front entrance and refreshment area. We look forward to joining our project partners to formally launch the improvements in the new year.

“We’re continuing to support our retail centres through the Burntwood Business Crew and Lichfield Town Team. In December we helped to launch Totally Locally WS7 and unveiled the Town Team’s city map to boost footfall to these vital areas. And, through our Lichfield 4 Business programme, companies across the district are continuing to receive free specialist advice, including how to access training and funding.

“I hope everyone has enjoyed the many activities and events that have been available throughout the district in the run up to Christmas, including the carol services, Lichfield Garrick’s pantomime, Lichfield Christmas Festival, and the many opportunities to visit Santa.

“I wish everyone a happy New Year and best wishes for 2014.”

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