New Hednesford leader in pledge to tackle anti-social behaviour and boost economy
Tackling antisocial behaviour and boosting the local economy are areas a town's newly elected leader will be focusing on.
Councillor Kathryn Downs was elected by unanimous vote as the new chairwoman of Hednesford Town Council at an extraordinary meeting of the council earlier this month.
Kathryn took over from Councillor Paul Woodhead who has now taken on the expanded role of principal speaker for regeneration, communication and community engagement.
Kathryn is also the spokeswoman for Youth and Community Cohesion and is keen to ensure that the town’s young people have more of a say in local matters.
She will be continuing her work with local schools and supporting the new community officer, once appointed, to establish a Youth Council for Hednesford.
“It’s clear there is a lack of things to do in Hednesford for young people and that’s something that needs to change if we want to tackle antisocial behaviour and graffiti issues that have blighted the town for the last couple of years," Kathryn said.
"Naturally the current coronavirus lockdown has alleviated these issues somewhat in recent weeks, but we need to plan long term for the area’s young people, and we need to ensure we give them a voice in council meetings and ensure we listen to what they have to say.”
And with the ongoing pandemic, Kathryn is concerned about the impact on the local economy and the already fragile state of retail on Market Street.
She added: “The loss of the Co-operative Food Store and B&M on Market Street has had a profound impact on the amount of people visiting Market Street this year, and the current lockdown has seen many of our independent stores having to close.
"As plans begin to be put in place to lift lockdown, I’m keen to see the council working on initiatives to attract business back to the town.
"Hednesford has had a significant amount of investment into its park facilities and Victoria Shopping Park over the last 10 years, but we need to make sure that Market Street doesn’t now get left behind.”
Kathryn, who is director of IT for a local housing association, is also chairwoman of Chase Pride - the area’s new LGBT+ charity - and was originally hoping to bring a Pride festival to Hednesford in September this year, but due to Coronavirus this has now been postponed until 2021.