Lots for town to look forward to

I HOPE all readers of the Andover Advertiser enjoyed a happy and peaceful Christmas.

With the big day behind us thoughts naturally turn to what 2014 holds in store.

I am able to bring some immediate New Year cheer with our proposal to freeze council tax and car parking charges until 2016. I hope this will bring some welcome news to householders in the current economic climate.

The move to freeze car parking charges, retain free parking after 4pm and all day Sunday and introduce many new parking initiatives in Andover will provide a boost to traders and shoppers alike.

As part of my drive to put power back where it belongs we recently launched a £300,000 community fund to support local projects in 2014/15. Local communities can bid for 50 per cent of the cost of a project, up to a maximum of £25,000. It can be extremely difficult for communities to get initiatives off the ground as finances are invariably an issue. The Community Asset Fund will provide a valuable lifeline to ensure schemes which benefit the community can be progressed and delivered.

The new year will also see consultation on the Revised Local Plan, which sets out housing need in the borough and new employment sites to maintain the economic vibrancy.

In Andover the plan proposes the growth of Picket Piece and Picket Twenty to help meet the need for affordable housing and to support the local economy. I welcome all new residents to our town.

The year will also see the implementation of more of the Andover Summit actions following the success of the pop-up shop, the one hour free Christmas parking offer and the introduction of grants to encourage new independent retailers to the town. Increasing the town’s footfall is a priority with some 20 events already planned for 2014. We have recently stepped in to save a farmers’ market for the town as events such as these have been successful increasing footfall by up to18 per cent on Sundays and 40 per cent on weekdays. The town will also get a facelift in the coming months, with the removal of unnecessary street furniture, the introduction of trees and hanging baskets and improved signage.

The coming year will see many improvements in the town, including the realisation of one of my ambitions to see Andover Town football club returning to Portway Stadium. I am delighted to have been elected to their board and will be supporting them and the town throughout 2014. I look forward to a successful year for both. I wish all readers a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

Councillor Ian Carr, leader, Test Valley Borough Cou

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