From the leader – December 31, 2021

I hope everyone has enjoyed a peaceful and healthy Christmas after what has been another extremely difficult year.

I think we can be very proud of the way we have all stepped and taken action to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

I am incredibly proud of the dedicated workforce at Rother District Council who, while themselves dealing the effects of the pandemic, have worked tirelessly to ensure as little disruption as possible to those services our residents rely upon. 

They have also ensured financial help has reached businesses and individuals hit hard by restrictions.  Since January we have paid out almost £20 million in national and discretionary Covid Business Support Grants, which has made a real difference to so many.

With the surge of Omicron cases and the increasing pressure on our NHS, it sadly looks likely we will have to live with restrictions for some time, but we will continue to do as much as possible to support residents and businesses. We welcome the additional £1 billion Government funding to support businesses impacted by Omicron and will do all we can to make sure our share is distributed as quickly as possible.

While we have to be mindful of the continuing impact of Covid on our communities, it’s important to take the time to highlight some of the amazing things we can look forward to in 2022.

After years of planning, we will finally see work begin on the 200-home development on the Blackfriars site in Battle, after Rother District Council’s housing company appointed Wates Residential as the partner contractor for its construction. 

Once complete the development will provide 42 affordable rented homes and 28 homes for shared ownership – something that is greatly needed in this part of the district. I look forward to seeing the development begin to take shape after so long in the planning.

We also look forward to the creation of an amazing new BMX and skate park at Sidley Recreation ground, which we hope will be popular with residents of all ages and abilities. 

Again, officers at the district council continue to put in a considerable amount of time and effort into this ambitious project.  Groundwork is currently taking place and, pending permission for minor design amendments, we hope the facility will be open to the public sometime in the spring.

Finally, we hope to launch our community lottery in 2022, which will help us continue to offer community grants to those projects and activities that provide immeasurable benefit to our residents. With the uncertainty around local authority funding, the lottery will secure the future of the initiative – which has helped a huge number of groups and organisations over the years.

So with much to look forward to in 2022, I wish you all a happy and healthy new year.

Published: 4th January 2022

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