New Amber Valley Borough Council leader Paul Jones is settling into his top job and knows he has a tough task ahead as the authority grapples with spending cuts.
But he also has plans for
economic growth for the
borough, including an ambitious plan to extend the
Nottingham tram system into Amber Valley.
This week Cllr Jones spoke in detail about the future for the borough under Labour rule after his party wrestled control of the council from the Tories after 14 years.
Cllr Jones is the only council leader to have been in post in two different centuries, and two different millennia.
He was previously leader in 1999 when the council was last Labour led.
His party has a slim
majority of just two seats after the local elections in May.
He said: “It has been a long time coming. I am excited,
exhilarated, and also
apprehensive to take on the
challenges that lie ahead, but I am more than ready.”
He has kick-started his term in office by proposing
several ways for the
council to review budgets and
streamline spending, after the announcement of severe council budget cuts, which are affecting all local authorities.
And it comes as Derbyshire
County Council, also now
Labour run, is slashing its budget by £157 million as it faces ‘unrelenting’
government cuts to its funding due to the recession.
Cllr Jones, who as well as being leader of the
council represents the
Heanor ward, and is also a county
councillor for the Greater Heanor area, which includes
Aldercar and Langley Mill.
The leader is set to carry out an independent review of borough council spending in September to evaluate the
structure and effectiveness of the
He said: “I aim to change the priorities of the council and get them thinking
outside of the box, in order for
Derbyshire to deal with the cuts. The income stream is drying up and we need to look at different ways of
The Labour group is looking to increase
economic regeneration, including
transportation, by working with neighbouring
“Economic growth is important, and I believe the most proactive way of
tackling this is by discussing the sharing of services with areas of mutual development,” said Cllr Jones.
“We have aspirations to extend the tram system from Broxtowe, Nottingham,
into our neck of the woods. This would greatly improve
Cllr Jones is also keen to cut down youth
He said: “I have been in talks with businesses at
Heanor Gate Industrial Estate, and local colleges regarding setting up apprenticeships for school children. Lets get them
into the workplace and doing something they are passionate about.”
He also stressed one of his priorities would be to tackle
regeneration in towns such as Heanor.
“Heanor is a great place but it needs work. It used to be a market town, but
after closures throughout the
recession it needs to be
injected with a new lease of life.
“We need to increase
footfall and attract people to the town rather than just pass through it on their way to a city centre.
The councillor who is
married with two sons,
added: “I am born and bred in
Heanor, and am committed to trying to improve the town by
working with local traders and
businesses. I welcome any suggestions on how else this could be done in Heanor and other local towns.”