With the snow falling and likening Whitton to a winter fairyland I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a prosperous and happy new year. As we enjoy this well earned Christmas break to spend time with our family, friends and loved ones I would like to take this opportunity to reflect back on what has been a busy seven months.
In May of this year I was deeply honoured to have been elected Councillor for Whitton ward, not only my home but the town in which I grew up. It was a busy election and I want to thank all those that helped in what was ultimately a very successful campaign. I fought the campaign primarily on the basis of rejuvenating the High Street. Seven months on, and through difficult economic times, our Town Centre is now fast becoming one of the success stories of the Borough. I sought on getting into office to immediately rectify the eye-sore that was the old Co-op site, an example of the thirty years of shameful neglect by our Liberal colleagues. By engaging with the business association, Lidl, local residents and the Council it is with great pride that we can now see the hoardings going up outside the store as Lidl seek to bring this building back into use. This rejuvenation will not only benefit the ground floor shops, but also the residential flats above, which the company will be refurbishing, thus bringing much needed housing stock back onto the market.
A new relationship with businesses, including the forging of a strong partnership with the Whitton Business Association and its tireless chair, Geoff Reyner, in the High Street, including a new willingness to listen, has led to a revival in Whitton and the welcoming of several new shops. More are in the pipeline which only underlines the resilience of the shopkeepers and people of Whitton in hard economic times. This work will continue and I am keen to ensure that Whitton is part of the plans that will be put forward as part of the Rugby World Cup 2015. Planning must begin now and Whitton, as the second gateway town to this prestigious event, should be in a prime position to benefit.
Being asked to stand as Governor of St Edmunds School was a special moment for me as it was the school that I myself attended. It is a great school with amazing teachers that strives for the best for its children – something that hasn’t changed since I was there. It has been a privilege for me to return the favour and I have been greatly impressed by the dedication of the Governing board and the head teacher Mrs Carmel Moreland. (To be honest I still feel strange calling teachers there by their first names).
Since the election I have met with many new people, old friends and former colleagues, many of which still live in Whitton. This is a fantastic town and, although I always knew it, I have been struck by the pride that Whittonians have for this town. Evidenced by the huge turnout at the Christmas Extravaganza or through the lively debate on our town’s very own community website www.whitton.ning I am hugely encouraged for the future. 2011 is set to be another great year for Whitton and with your help I look forward to doing my utmost to make sure it will be.
As ever, I am always available and you will see me over the festive period no doubt rushing around buying a jar of something that I have forgotten or perhaps you will see me enjoying a drink in one of our local pubs.
Merry Christmas to you all
Cllr Gareth Elliott