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100 days on: Wolverhampton Council leader outlines vision for city's children

Wolverhampton | Opinions | Published:

Wolverhampton's council leader Councillor Ian Brookfield speaks about his ongoing challenges 100 days after taking charge.

As a local councillor I’ve always been driven to make a difference to people’s lives.

I want everyone to have the opportunity to flourish and for our wonderful city to provide everything they need – good jobs, decent and affordable housing and healthy and safe communities, writes Councillor Ian Brookfield.

Now, as Leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, I want to do so much more.

So, just over 100 days after becoming leader, I’m pledging my on-going commitment to our city’s children and young people and taking the next step in our battle against climate change.

Quite simply, giving children the best start in life benefits everyone.

It’s a council priority and that’s why one of my very first pledges as leader was to safeguard the future of the city’s state-of-the-art Youth Zone, The Way.

As a council, we’d already provided £3.5m towards its development and running costs, but I wanted to make sure it’s here for the long term and awarding it £200,000 a year for the next three years allows it to continue its fantastic work.

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The Way has been kept incredibly busy over the school holidays, as it has played a major part in providing a range of events and activities as part of our Summer Squad programme which I launched in mid-July.

Councillor Ian Brookfield meeting with The Way Youth Zone chief executive Carla Priddon

This is a new initiative providing free and affordable activities for children and young people throughout the long summer break.

As a council we’ve worked with a range of partners – and local children and young people - to pull this together and it’s been really successful.

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It’s been great to see happy and fulfilled families from different communities enjoying what our city has to offer.

The numbers speak for themselves – tens of thousands of children and young people enjoyed the 320-plus activities on offer across Wolverhampton, while our dedicated Summer Squad website received over 25,000 hits.

Giving our children and young people more things to do during the holidays also helped bring about a noticeable decrease in instances of youth crime and disorder over the summer.

My other big commitment since becoming leader has been to declare a climate emergency, setting the council on a mission to make the city cleaner and greener for future generations of Wulfrunians.

We’ll continue to deliver the excellent services that we do, day in and day out, but if we don’t take our responsibilities to the climate seriously, we have to ask ourselves what’s the point?

Of course, there’s only so much we can do as a local authority; we can’t do something this big on our own.

I want to work with as many people as possible to tackle this issue, so today I’m announcing our intention to hold a citizen’s assembly on climate change where we can prioritise decisions and move forward together.

I’ve loved my first 100 days as leader. It’s an absolute privilege to hold this position in the city I love. I’m looking forward difference to people’s lives.

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