“THINGS are going in the right direction” – that’s the message from Redditch Conservatives as they build towards the local elections on May 6.
In an interview on Tuesday with Council Leader Matt Dormer and his deputy Coun Mike Rouse, they hailed the achievements of the administration after just three years in charge.
These include investment in the borough’s parks and open spaces, supporting investment in the Alexandra Hospital and building the borough’s own council houses.
Coun Dormer said plans for the future include the regeneration not just of Winyates and Matchborough centres but also others ‘from Batchley to Woodrow’ and improved public and non-car transport options – and all this with the tantilising possibility of being handed up to £25million as part of the government’s Town’s Fund deal.
Such money he says would facilitate grand plans to transform Redditch town centre making it a more attractive place to live, visit, shop and to come for an evening out.
Key to this is the transformation of the railway station.
“One of the first things that Matt Dormer did when he became Leader in 2018 was to invite the leader of the county council Simon Geraghty to come and take a look at the town centre and the train station,” said Coun Rouse.
“It’s that conversation which has led to the scheme in front of us to transform the train station into a ‘gamechanger’ site.”
And Coun Dormer was at pains to point out that all this is not dependent solely on government money but the Town’s Fund cash would make it ‘more deliverable’.
“We do not struggle to get people to live here, or to work here, but we struggle to get them to spend their money here so we have to make the offer far better,” he said.
“We have got to make everything better and make people think, ‘well, you know what I don’t need to get the train up to Birmingham, I don’t need to drive to Solihull or Worcester’ because we will have everything people want here.”
Couns Dormer and Rouse also stressed their green credentials but refused to name a date by which the borough would go carbon neutral.
However they did say they would widen footpaths in parks like Arrow Valley to ease overcrowding, and upgrade National Cycle Route 5 through the park.
They also said the range of Bird e-scooters would soon be extended to connect with Winyates.
Coun Dormer did acknowledge some green space would be lost in the regeneration of Winyates and Matchborough, but that they were committed to a two centre solution and the redevelopment would be subject to public consultation.
“My phone number is on the website if any members of the public want to pick up the phone and have a chat and ask me what we are doing, I really don’t mind,” he said. “I would sooner talk to people than have an anonymous email.”