A Vision for Northampton

I want to talk today about a vision for the town for the next four years that I believe we can all unite around and work together on.
First we need to get an infra-structure that works for the people of the town. This means that the Borough and Highways at the County need to forge a better and more productive relationship. For example, we have projects such as the redevelopment of the St Edmund’s Hospital site and the Chronicle and Echo site where local people have a view of how the road systems can work for them, how traffic flows can be planned. We want the people of the town to be properly heard and responded to. Frankly we are tired of being done to.
We need to think about how we are going to make the town centre experience for the people who live in town, shoppers coming into town, visitors and students a good experience.
We know from Scrutiny, from the Town Centre Czar and our own experience that people want to use the Town Centre for more than main stream shopping. They want to access niche shopping, they want to access services, leisure and culture.
We need to look at how we can develop links between the Waterside and the Town Centre. Bedford Road should be developed with a dual use surface that encourages people to walk between the two.
We need a better deal for bus passengers. And we need that now. We need to link the Station with the bus station with the town centre. We need to have a Town Centre bus that goes to all the main destinations in town; the hospital, the university, the retail parks, the Sports Clubs and the Leisure Trust facilities.
I think we should think hard and long about the Greyfriar’s site. I know there are plans to put the long distance coach terminus there. It might be controversial but I think we should put the long distance coaches into Northgate and build a bigger better bus terminus at Greyfriar’s so passengers can come straight into the shops as they use to do and still want to do.
We are going to be having two thousand students living in and around town. We need to think of how we can be a welcoming town to young people that offers civic, volunteering and cultural opportunities beyond the cheap booze and night club culture. Successful university towns keep a good proportion of their graduates. Northampton has not done very well in this respect to now. Graduates breathe new life, energy and creativity into their towns and we need to think how we can retain ours and encourage them to settle and help regenerate our local economy and build our future prosperity.                                                 We have a new duty for the well- being of citizens of the town. We have an obesity epidemic. We need to be doing what we can do encourage healthy lifestyles. Can we look at organised town walks, park gyms, free swimming, leisure passes and other initiatives that promote activity?
Everyone is fed up with living in a dirty town, with fly tipping and littering everywhere we look. The Enterprise contract is up for renewal in 2018. We need an all-party group to review the contract and make recommendations to full council. We need a cleaner town.
And finally Madam Mayor. We need bold and radical steps to address poverty in this town.
We need to develop an anti -poverty strategy that supports people in poverty so no-one in our town goes to bed hungry and cold. It needs to be a strategy that lifts people out of poverty and a strategy that prevents people falling into poverty. The Living wage, an end to zero hour contracts, direct employment, and end to agency working are all important to create a work force fully committed to the town, able to look after their families and to spend money in the local economy.

Opposition Business, Guildhall,  June 2015