It's important that people are aware of the excellent work taking place across the city.
In March 2015, the eyes of the world were on us as we joined together for the reinternment of Richard III. It was a momentous occasion that allowed us to showcase our city; its history, its diversity and our achievements.
As we approach the end of the city’s first four years with a City Mayor, we can reflect on what those achievements are and how far we have come.
A changing city centre
In the city centre, my ambitious Connecting Leicester programme has already broken down many of the barriers that have made it hard for people to move from one area to another.
The historic streets of the Old Town have been revitalised to complement the new King Richard III Visitor Centre which opened in the summer of 2014. The centre is situated alongside the beautiful new Cathedral Gardens which opened in July. This open space offers an idyllic new public garden at the heart of the city. Around the corner, Jubilee Square provides a stepping stone to the vibrant retail district and the heart of old Roman Leicester.
The bustling hub of Leicester Market has also begun its transformation with the opening of the new indoor food hall, complementing and enhancing the Corn Exchange. Our £7 million investment will include a new public square behind the Exchange on which work has already commenced.
Much of this extensive programme of development has been made possible by successful bids to the European Regional Development Fund, the Department for Transport and other government grants.
With continued budget cuts by central government these and other vital funding streams allow us to continue a robust programme of regeneration to make Leicester an attractive place to live, visit and do business.
Investing in education
Over the last four years our secondary schools have been the focus of the biggest ever investment in our education system.
The £235 million Building Schools for the Future programme has already led to eight schools being completely rebuilt or remodelled. Work to create vibrant new learning environments for young people in the remaining schools will be ﬁnished by the end of 2015.
A place to do business
For the last four years we have made huge strides to enhance Leicester’s economy and make our industries thrive. My Economic Action Plan is a plan to unlock the potential for growth in our city. It is a plan through to 2020, but already it is producing results.
Work finished on the £5.8 million Leicester Food Park, providing space and potential for businesses in the food and drink manufacturing industry. At Pioneer Park, the £5.8 million Dock opened offering a home for up to 54 new innovation and high technology businesses. The award-winning Maker’s Yard, a specialist space for creative entrepreneurs is also now up and running.
Plans to redevelop the historic Friars Mill listed building are underway. The £6.5 million scheme includes funding of £3.9 million from the European Regional Development Fund to create 15 managed workspaces. This is alongside our wider Waterside redevelopment project, a vision to 2020 to provide a thriving new urban quarter offering a unique and vibrant place to live and space for businesses to flourish. This project complements my Connecting Leicester vision, as we aim to reconnect the city with its riverside. It is being supported by £20 million of Government funding.
We have also been working hard to support young people in these difficult economic climate, our Leicester to Work programme has created plenty of new employment opportunities for young people, supporting them into training and developing their skills for the workplace.
Transforming our neighbourhood services
In our communities, we have been improving the way we deliver neighbourhood services to the public.
St Matthew’s Community Centre now includes a library, housing services and more space for community use, while the move of Aylestone Library into Aylestone Leisure Centre allowed us to offer increased opening hours, self-service machines and greater resources for public use.