SOUTH Derbyshire is continuing to punch well above its weight in the face of the tough financial climate, a community leader has said as he welcomes in 2014.
Bob Wheeler believes 2013 has been another defining year filled with continued progress, positive announcements and the roll-out of major initiatives.
People and places, in particular, are benefiting from the way the district is bucking the national trend by attracting inward investment.
He told the Mail: “It has been really pleasing to hear announcements of Toyota, Nestle, JCB and many other companies continuing to invest in the district, and our level of unemployment is now lower than Aylesbury.
“In contrast to many other districts, our retail and leisure businesses are more than holding their heads above water. Swadlincote, with its free parking, is attracting more and more visitors as its reputation continues to blossom.”
One of the big things to take off in the district has been regular farmers’ markets in Swadlincote.
Regularly attracting hundreds of shoppers keen to buy an array of fresh meats and vegetables to all manner of trinkets and collectables, it has been a huge success.
Councillor Wheeler added: “More than half a million pounds is being invested in Eureka Park to restore it to past glories.
“The council is also playing a huge part in a project which is seeing the Melbourne Sporting Partnership is building 21st-century leisure facilities for Melbourne and the surrounding areas.”
In terms of council initiatives, Councillor Wheeler is particularly proud of the introduction of the Easy Green Recycling Scheme.
The move now allows residents across the district to recycle more waste than ever, and has been met with near universal praise from homeowners.
He said: “Judging by the reaction we have had, most have taken to the ‘Escheme’ really naturally.
“Residents asked for this and, now they have it, they appear to be making the most of it, which is brilliant to see.”
Looking ahead, 2014 is set to continue in the same vein, with high-profile projects in the pipeline, including building the first council homes in a generation.
Councillor Wheeler said: “2014 will have plenty of challenges but, as always, the people of South Derbyshire will rise to them.
“We are looking forward to the New Year with confidence and hope.”