New report highlights ‘leaps and bounds’ made by council as part of ambitious roadmap for the future
A DRIVE launched to transform the immediate and long-term fortunes of Barrow has made remarkable progress, a meeting of the council’s executive committee heard today.
Growing Forward, a key council report and action plan first published in July 2020, highlighted how Barrow Borough Council had responded to the immediate challenges of Covid-19, and provided a roadmap for the short and long term future of the town.
With more than £17million in grants now distributed to local businesses, countless local families supported by a Covid Hardship Fund and £25,000 in laptops and technology allocated to children to help with home schooling, the focus is now shifting to larger and longer term projects.
Cllr Ann Thomson, leader of Barrow Borough Council, said: “The human and emotional cost of Coronavirus has been significant. Families and friends have been lost, our physical and mental health has been under siege and for large parts of the last 12 months, our lives have been severely restricted.
“The last 12 months have brought with them challenges on a scale this council has not had to deal with for generations.
“Covid has disrupted every element of life, has at times been unrelenting and has stretched the council, its staff and resources to the limit.
“But we have always been determined to look after our borough, its residents and its businesses in the best way possible, while also looking beyond the pandemic and towards a future for Barrow, which is bright and prosperous.
“I am delighted with the progress made with our Growing Forward initiative. We have moved on leaps and bounds due to the hard work and dedication of council staff, community volunteers and elected members.”
In examining progress made to date, the meeting heard that:
- Barrow’s local track and trace team have contacted 2,500 Covid-positive cases and traced a further 2,600 contacts.
- A green spaces group has been created to establish ways in which green spaces - including community gardens, play areas and spaces for residents to come together and build friendships and connections - can be created.
- A Safer Streets initiative to tackle residential burglary and theft has been successfully delivered in the Salthouse Road area of Barrow
- Through its Housing First initiative, the council has provided temporary accommodation for 45 households in the period since the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020 and assisted 150 households into secure accommodation,
- The council has worked closely with the New Constellation project to draw together 14 people from all walks of life to spend an intensive week discussing what they wanted for the future of the borough, resulting in 12 guiding principles for the future.
Unveiled last year, Growing Forward detailed an ambitious roadmap towards strong communities and a resilient, diverse economy for Barrow.
It also highlighted how the council would achieve its long term vision for Barrow to become a great place to live, work and visit.
The far reaching report touched on almost every aspect of life in the borough, looking at ways in which a positive future can be achieved for both people and place.
Among the major projects it highlights for delivery over the coming years are:
- A Climate ChangeAction plan which will see a variety of projects combine to help Barrow hit carbon net zero by 2037.
- Ongoing work to make the Marina Village scheme a reality as part of the council’s Towns Fund bid.
- A £1.85million dual project scheme to create a town centre Heritage Action Zone (£1m) and to position Barrow as a destination of choice and create outdoor event spaces to generate footfall in the town centre and revitalise the high street (£850k).
Cllr Thomson said: “So much has been achieved in the last 12 months, both in a covid reactionary capacity, but also in the sense that we have moved forward in many ways with our plans for Barrow.
“There is no escaping the challenges we have faced, or the impact the pandemic has had on life and livelihoods. But equally, the togetherness, the drive to achieve great things and the vision we have for Barrow has been very powerful. Our borough has a very bright future,”