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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Council outlines action plan to give Carlisle ‘sense of direction’

An action plan to boost technology, enhance the arts, improve sports facilities and clamp down on ‘environment criminals’ has been revealed.

Joe Hendry photo
Carlisle council leader Dr Joe Hendry outside the Methodist Central Hall

Carlisle City Council this week set out its priorities for the next three years.

And leader Joe Hendry hopes it is a document which will provide a “sense of direction” for the city.

He said: “It’s going to take the city forward. I think it’s vital to let the people of Carlisle know that we know where we are going.”

The plan has been approved by the Labour council’s ruling executive and builds on manifesto pledges before the party took control last year.

Its key aims are to:

  • Promote Carlisle as a prosperous city to be proud of;
  • Support the growth of more high quality and sustainable business and employment opportunities;
  • Develop vibrant sports, arts and cultural facilities;
  • Work more effectively with partners to achieve the council’s priorities;
  • Develop a skilled and prosperous workforce for the future;
  • Make Carlisle clean and tidy;
  • Address the current and future housing needs.

Dr Hendry said work on one major project – the refurbishment of the Old Town Hall and the Tourist Information Centre – had already started and it would help fulfil part of the third of the priorities. Other projects outlined in the Draft Carlisle Plan 2013/16 include:

  • Developing a city-wide broadband and wi-fi project;
  • A city arts centre;
  • Various sports facilities projects;
  • A new enforcement policy for environmental crimes;
  • Delivery of the Cleaning Up Carlisle programme.

Dr Hendry wants a strong and positive message “that Carlisle is a city that is open for business and one that has real hope and real ambition for the future”.

He added: “The Carlisle plan will be monitored by the senior management team and regular progress will be reported to the executive. The actions for each priority will be reviewed and developed as they progress.”

On the sporting and cultural front, moves are already underway to bring projects forward.

A multi-million pound swimming pool to replace the dated James Street baths is top of the shopping list already outlined in a five-year city council spending programme.

Location options are currently being explored.

Venues being looked at fort an arts centre include Methodist Central Hall on Fisher Street.

Although local authorities are being squeezed by government cuts, Carlisle has substantial sums to reinvest from the sale of surplus assets, the largest of which is the site for a superstore at Morton, which could raise tens of millions of pounds.

Dr Hendry said a programme of engagement events to get feedback on the Draft Carlisle Plan was scheduled for next month.

“They will assist in raising awareness of the council’s vision and priorities as well as helping to shape the actions to deliver the Carlisle plan,” he added.

“In addition, consultation on the action plan will be undertaken with partners engaged in delivering each key action.

“The city council will consult with community and voluntary groups on the action plan to identify opportunities to develop working with this sector and support existing initiatives.”

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