A New Year’s message from Councillor David Mackintosh, Leader of Northampton Borough Council.
“2014 has been a year of celebration and commemoration, highlighting our rich heritage and achievements – it has also been a year of growth and setting the foundations for success in future years.
“The regeneration of our town has continued as Northampton Alive projects have progressed at pace. This year we agreed an end to the development agreement with Legal&General, putting the future of Greyfriars back in our hands, and when it is demolished in the next few months we will have four acres of land in a prime town centre location to redevelop.
“The expansion of all three professional sports clubs is moving ahead, and our athletics club will soon have a fantastic new facility at Moulton College. The town’s transport infrastructure has been improved and work is nearing completion on the new railway station which opens in a few weeks.
“We have focused on making Northampton a place that people want to visit and that businesses want to be a part of. Our town centre has seen more people visiting and shopping thanks to expanding our free parking offer to include Saturdays and two hours free during the week. The reopening of Abington Street is already seeing more people using that part of the town centre.
“And we have organised regular entertainment in the summer and at Christmas, including a traditional German market. We also launched a Love Northampton App to help promote local attractions and offers, as well as giving our town centre businesses support to reach customers.
“Our Business Incentive Scheme has been huge success. In just 9 months we have invested over £300,000 in helping almost 40 local businesses and entrepreneurs. This has unlocked around £1.6m in private investment, creating 120 new jobs for local people. The scheme has been part of our work to stimulate the local economy and help fill empty units across Northampton.
“This year we also announced plans for a major extension to the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. Our plans will see the exhibition space doubled as well as new galleries, teaching facilities and commercial space. And with improvements to Guildhall Road we are working hard to bring people to our fantastic Cultural Quarter.
“Our parks looked amazing this year. And for the first time we were awarded two prestigious Green Flags. Delapre Park retained its Green Flag, and will continue to look better and better as the refurbishment work brings Delapre Abbey back into use. And Abington Park received a Green Flag for the first time ever, which recognised the hard work that goes into making it one of the best and most loved parks in the country.
“All of this happened as we took time to mark some significant anniversaries for our town and the nation. It was a chance to celebrate how far we have come, the notable events and people who shaped the our town and, in some cases the world.
“As the country commemorated the one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War, we held events in Northampton to mark the major military anniversaries and I was honoured to be invited by the French President to the unveiling of a new War Memorial in Notre-Dame-de-Lorette where many brave soldiers from Northampton paid the ultimate sacrifice. The Armed Forces Community Covenant remains an important commitment for the Borough Council and we will continue to honour our brave Armed Forces past and pres