BURY Council leader Rishi Shori brings you his latest monthly column

PEOPLE make a place. When we talk about regeneration the first thing that often springs to mind is buildings.

Whilst they are essential to the structure of a place, the personality of a place is down to its people.

We recently refreshed Bury Council’s priorities and regeneration of people and place effectively underpins all of them; and our recent budget decisions reflect our focus on regeneration, too.

Nearly a decade of cuts means that we must find new ways of working, becoming an enabler rather than a provider of services. Communities know best themselves what they need to improve their areas and quality of life, so we’ve given them the spending power by making £100,000 available to each of our six townships. This is in addition to boosting our £10 million investment in Bury’s roads by a further quarter of a million pounds this financial year to accelerate progress.

The needs of vulnerable people who need social care have been at the heart of our decisions when setting budget and council tax, and we’ve invested a further half a million pounds in protecting services for children, including protecting our remaining children's centres.

Supporting our homelessness prevention and other welfare and hardship relief initiatives has played a significant part in our budgeting too with a further £200,000 allocated towards delivering our anti-poverty strategy, including preparation for the rollout of Universal Credit.

When we think of regeneration I think also of our new generations, our young people, and we need to give them the best start possible in life.

We know that one size does not fit all when it comes to education and I’m particularly excited about a new pre-apprenticeship programme for 12 to 14-year olds we’ve committed to underwrite, which is putting youngsters in touch with local businesses and giving them early experience of the workplace; bringing to life what they are learning in the classroom.

You’ll be hearing me talk a lot about this new scheme over the next few months, which reflects the recommendations of the Bury Life Chances Commission, as we reach out to find businesses who would like to get involved.

And turning our attention to our latest developments on the physical regeneration of Bury the Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, was with us again a couple of weeks ago to see for himself why we had nominated Prestwich for his Town Centre Challenge; a new initiative that is designed to breathe life back into our town centres.

We hosted a great meeting which was well attended by developers, planners and public bodies; and Andy Burnham talked about his commitment to lift up Prestwich.

Within our Prestwich regeneration strategy, we identified that the improvement of Bury New Road would help to regenerate the high street and the wider Prestwich town centre and we’re driving that scheme forward with partners to improve the town centre environment and manage the impact of traffic.

Radcliffe is also high on our shopping list for regeneration and I was delighted to open the new ‘super Lidl’ in Radcliffe last month. Attracting a retailer of Lidl’s quality is a direct result of our commitment to and investment in Radcliffe town centre.

We promised the people of Radcliffe that they would see real improvements to the town centre and this, combined with all of our other recent investments, is proof that we’ve kept our promises.

What’s more, this month I’ll be launching the Radcliffe Regeneration Task Force which will bring together businesses, the local community and the council.

Andy Burnham has already promised his support for this task force, and by all working together we can continue the transformation of Radcliffe.

It was fantastic to see Killelea House Intermediate Care Facility reopened following the £2.1 million renovation and refurbishment. Looking after the needs of our increasing elderly population is essential and the new Killelea will provide care and support for vulnerable people with the emphasis on increasing people’s independence to live on their own for longer.

Finally, it’s great to see the weather finally picking up. It’s been a testing time with the worst snow conditions we’ve seen in more than 20 years.

All stops were pulled out by our council’s teams to keep Bury’s roads moving, securing damaged trees and rescuing remote villages, working through the night in Arctic conditions.

We’ve received some lovely feedback telling us that without our teams’ hard work and dedication many people would have been trapped within their homes.

As I’ve said people make a place, and Bury is testament to that. As ever please keep me in touch with your news and events in your area, I’m always delighted to get out and about and meet you.