HEATHER CAIRD District Dispatch...Extra support for our communities

Welcome to my new column. I hope to give you a look into what the council is doing on your behalf, and an opportunity to understand what we will be trying to do in the near future.

People easily get the wrong idea about local government, you know the one, “fat cats in their comfortable offices…” when actually the offices hold a caring, committed group of professionals with the difficult job of doing what central government requires and providing lots of community services that real people need, while cutting costs at the same time.

We do not have the same level of resources that we once did. So, we have to constantly assess what we are delivering and how; look for new ways to work that will offer savings, while maintaining quality services that are accessible; and, making sure that we continue to protect and support the most vulnerable people in our district.

We have several parts of this beautiful district which we have identified as needing extra support in a number of areas. Together with our partners we will work with these communities to better meet their needs. This could include a range of support to help people to get back into work, get onto the housing ladder, or increase their skills. It is also intended to help people to help themselves. This means that we may not have the money to do some of the things that we have traditionally done in the past. However, by working together with you, we can continue to keep the district as good as it is.

Westward House, our sheltered accommodation for families in extreme need, is being refurbished to bring it into the 21st century, to make it more suitable for today’s lifestyles. This investment is an important, worthwhile one and will provide short term homes for the most vulnerable in our society.

The Business Improvement District is fully inaugurated now and I would like to wish the group every success for the future in delivering their objective of ensuring the city continues to develop and grow as an important retail and cultural location.

We have a busy summer ahead of us. We are organising the triathlon and aquathlon in July. We also have the Olympic Torch Relay coming through Midhurst, Petworth, Tillington, Duncton, Easebourne, Rogate and Chichester on Monday 16 July. Our new museum, The Novium, will also open in July, which will showcase the area’s rich culture and heritage.

Our big new investment in the future is the replacement of The Grange Centre in Midhurst, with a brand new Community and Leisure Centre. We hope to see contractors on site in June.