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Covid-19 has had a big impact on council finances

Next month marks a year since I had the honour of being elected leader of South Kesteven District Council.

During this time, the council has worked tirelessly to deliver targeted support for residents, businesses and organisations.

Key achievements include securing £900,000 of Heritage Action Zone funding to restore the cultural heritage of buildings in Grantham town centre, securing over £2.5 million of additional funds for community and voluntary groups in South Kesteven via the SK Community Fund, and securing Single Local Growth funding to support the partnership with Lincolnshire County Council to deliver the Grantham southernrelief road.

Kelham Cooke (32387242)
Kelham Cooke (32387242)

One of the council’s key priorities is increasing the number of affordable homes for local people.

In the last year, we have adopted the South Kesteven Local Plan to enable the delivery of sustainable housing and business growth in the district and already started building more high-quality sustainable homes. And to play our part in creating a greener future for all, we have created an action plan to reduce the region’s carbon footprint.

However, none of us could have predicted what a rollercoaster this year was to become. Nor could I be prouder of what we continue to achieve as a council and as a community in the face of Covid-19.

Many staff and volunteers have worked around-the-clock to adapt the services we deliver to residents, provide vital assistance to businesses, and to introduce new services to support our most vulnerable. This includes our newly created SK Community Hub, which worked with the community sector to meet the essential needs of over 2,000 vulnerable people as part of the Covid-19 response.

But Covid-19 is continuing to have a devastating impact on our communities and a long-lasting effect on the council’s finances. It is vital that we address this to ensure that we can continue delivering the services and support that our communities depend on.

Despite the immediate challenges we are facing, it remains a key priority of mine that our local economy not only recovers from the coronavirus pandemic but continues to thrive in the future. This means protecting and creating jobs, increasing the amount of affordable and council housing, and improving the health and well-being of residents.

The council’s priorities will be outlined in a new corporate plan that will be published in October and, to support the delivery of this ambitious plan, we will be reviewing the structure of the council to ensure that our resources are fully aligned to our corporate priorities and vision.

This is the right thing to do to ensure that we are ready to take on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Looking back at my first year as leader, I am incredibly proud of the significant strides that we have already taken to improve the lives of residents. And I greatly look forward to working together with colleagues and communities over the coming years to truly make South Kesteven the best district in which to work, live, and visit.

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