Out and about in summer

Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis looks forward to the summer and encourages us all to get out and about.

We’re lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country and summer is a great time to get out and about – re-visit favourite haunts or discover new parts of the county.

And enjoying all Derbyshire has to offer doesn’t have to break the bank.

We look after more than 120 countryside sites including country parks, woodlands and national trails, all there to be explored. And some sites have Tramper scooters for hire so you don’t need to miss out if you’ve got limited mobility.

There’s also more than 260 miles of traffic-free cycling and walking trails, and if you’re planning a day out why not consider leaving the car at home and letting the bus take the strain?

Using a b_line or Gold Card if you have one is a great way of saving money, and taking public transport means you’ll be having a greener day out as well as not having to worry about parking the car.

While on your travels you could take the opportunity to support local businesses by visiting one of the many tea rooms, sandwich shops, pubs or snack shops. Or if you’re on a budget a picnic is also a great way to keep everyone fuelled after you’ve chosen the perfect spot.

A word of caution however. During the recent very hot weather we’ve seen some frightening incidents of wildfires in Derbyshire and further afield.

I’d urge people to please leave barbecues and stoves at home. And of course, if you are picnicking, always dispose of rubbish properly or take it home with you.

As well as the beautiful countryside we’re spoilt for choice with attractions and fun venues to visit, and there’s also a number of events and festivals this summer to enjoy. Many of the details can be found on our website or via the websites below.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you have a wonderful summer and discover new favourite places to enjoy in our wonderful county – places I’m sure you’ll want to revisit as the seasons change.

www.derbyshire.gov.uk/countryside

http://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/home

www.derbyshire.gov.uk/goldcard

www.derbyshire.gov.uk/b_line

www.itsaboutmederbyshire.co.uk

www.trentbarton.co.uk

www.stagecoachbus.com

Supporting local producers

Councillor Barry Lewis, Derbyshire County Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture, Tourism and Climate Change.

I’m a big advocate for buying local produce, supporting local farmers and producers, businesses and traders, and I’ll happily talk about my passion for supporting the local food and drink industry until the cows come home.

Over the years there’s been a shift from using the local high street towards shopping in out-of-town large supermarkets, getting everything in one place during a `big shop’, often filling trollies with mass-produced branded products. 

During the pandemic I felt there was definitely a shift back towards more locally produced goods and traders, with people rediscovering their butchers, bakers and greengrocers while travel was restricted.

While we’re obviously glad to see the tail end of the pandemic, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we continued with this particular trend and carried on using those amazing local traders and buying their locally sourced, top-quality produce, often coming direct from local farms and other producers?

Walking into a local shop, being able to talk to someone behind the counter about what you’re buying and knowing you’re getting a decent product that’s been grown, produced or prepared locally with care gives you a good feeling. And you know it’s not travelled miles and miles to get to your basket which helps us all to cut our carbon footprint.

Thriving local businesses and traders in our communities and a vibrant and healthy farming industry are all vital to this country and to the local and wider economy. Our farmers and producers feed the nation and it’s so important we all do what we can to support them.

We can also do our bit by making sure we’re opting for food and drink displaying the Red Tractor or British Lion mark, which gives us the assurance that we’re buying great British produce which adheres to the very high standards set for our farming industry.

And while we all face challenges of rising costs across the board, with many of us choosing different, cheaper brands, these assurance marks will continue to provide customer confidence in the quality and safety of what we’re buying as well as ensuring animal welfare. And if we’re using decent produce we’re less likely to waste it too.

I’ll be joining others in celebrating all that’s good about British food and drink during British Food Fortnight this year from 17 September to 2 October.

Look out for events during this time in local pubs, restaurants or at farmers’ markets and festivals. Even schools and hospitals join in to promote the fact they’re using British produce, and I know some Derbyshire schools have themed harvest and Great British Food themed days.

It’s down to all of us to do our bit and show our support.

Community Grants available for local projects and schemes – find out more

Our Derbyshire Community Grants fund has been up and running for just over two months and we’ve been delighted to approve more than 20 applications for some really worthwhile projects so far.

There’s £1.5 million available to help fund projects and events across the county which will help our local communities to thrive.

We’ve had some very strong applications and examples of successful projects ranging from community concerts and musical events to befriending and community lunch clubs.

I’d encourage groups across the county to apply if they have a community project or scheme that needs a bit of extra financial help to get off the ground.

Even a little help can make all the difference and make an idea become a reality. Find out more by watching the short video above or go to www.derbyshire.gov.uk/derbyshiregrants

Derbyshire County Council sets its budget

Setting the council’s budget and council tax is one of the key dates in our diary and it is so important that we get it right, not only for us as an authority but for you as a Derbyshire resident.

We must ensure we have enough money to do what we need to do, but equally that it is fair and does not put an added unnecessary burden on already overstretched household budgets.

It’s not an easy task. Derbyshire County Council is a billion-pound organisation and difficult decisions are made all the time about how best to use the money we have, ensuring it is used efficiently, wisely and to the best effect.

That’s why we’re grateful to all of you who took the time to complete our annual Your Council Your Voice survey and tell us what’s important to you.

No one can argue that the last two years have been difficult for us all, and this has made setting the budget this year a particular challenge.

We have had to take into account the increasing pressures on services across the board, impacted further by the pandemic, and the continuing and significant rise in demand for services which ensure older and vulnerable people and children are cared for, protected and can live safely and well.

And these pressures are set to continue, along with major savings that we must make.

We’ve kept council tax as low as realistically possible. A 3% rise is 2% lower than allowed by Government. It’s as low as we can make it while still recognising the pressures on all our services.

You can be assured that as an enterprising council we will continue to work extremely hard to find new and innovative ways to provide the services you use, provide support where it is needed and continue to invest in our schools, infrastructure, young people, the local economy, our climate change work and a host of other programmes and initiatives to ensure our county continues to grow and thrive.

County Deal announcement welcomed by Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis

I’m really excited to be sharing news from Government that Derbyshire and Derby have been recognised as national ‘Levelling Up’ leaders and put forward for a County Deal.

The deal will bring substantial investment to the area, improving people’s lives throughout our communities, as well as the transfer of specific powers from central Government to a local level in areas like transport, bus services, housing and skills, giving greater autonomy to local leaders over decision making and funding.

You can read more on Derbyshire County Council’s website.

Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis’s Christmas message 2021

This time last year we were very much in the thick of the pandemic and restrictions were being announced that changed the face of Christmas for many of us.

I urged everyone to dig deep and follow the guidelines and said that I knew, despite tough times ahead, we would get through it and get our county back on track.

There’s no doubt it’s been another challenging year, and with the pandemic still with us, including another new variant, we just can’t predict what’s around the corner.

What I can say is that despite the challenges facing individuals, families, communities and businesses, our great county is already showing strong signs of recovery, and we’re building back not only stronger but greener too.

I’m well aware of the issues we’ve all faced. As well as being the council leader I run a local business and I have a family and am by no means immune from the effects of the pandemic. I get it and it’s been tough.

That’s why I’m as determined as ever to ensure the council I lead is there to support people who need it, and as an enterprising council we continue to drive forward positive change and initiatives that will help the county get back on its feet and benefit us all.

We’re working with other local councils to offer additional help with council tax and rent arrears, homelessness and temporary housing, underlining our commitment to support local households, as well as helping people directly when they need it.

We continue to support the NHS in the vaccine roll-out and our huge public health role continues, including community testing – both game-changers as we strive for the return of normal life.

I’ve taken my hat off to individuals and communities who’ve gone the extra mile during the pandemic, and we’ve played our part in honouring dozens of Derbyshire people with well-deserved Beacon of Hope awards – a scheme launched by Derbyshire’s Lord Lieutenant and the Derbyshire High Sheriff in the spring.

We are using the £15m Covid Recovery Fund wisely and this has helped us to support jobs and businesses across the county.

Our support to schools remains strong, not only with the many changes they’ve needed to make to follow government guidelines during the pandemic, but also with investment. In 2021 alone we’ve approved more than £10m for modernisation work on schools and funded a number of major schemes totalling almost £11million including the replacement of the majority of Bramley Vale Primary School, an expansion at Mickley Infant School to allow it to convert to a primary, replacement buildings at Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School and Brampton Primary School and expansion projects at Hunloke Park Primary School and Hallam Fields Junior School. 

We’ve also been working hard on our roads and have made a great start on spending £120million over three years on improvements. While I know it’s been inconvenient for some, the work is necessary and it will lead to much improved highways across the county.

While we focus on the day-to-day, it’s as important to ensure relationships built with others are maintained and strengthened. Whether it’s close working partnerships with neighbouring authorities, districts and boroughs; economic and business organisations or entire industries like tourism and hospitality, ensuring strong communication and connections is key.

We have frequent communication with our counterparts in Toyota City Council in Japan and Anhui Province in China, and it’s been interesting to discuss the climate change issues affecting us all in low carbon webinars held earlier this year.

We’ve been able to share our important work in this area and have unveiled our Climate Change Strategy as we continue our `Journey to Net Zero’ by 2032 for the council and 2050 countywide.

On the green theme, we’re already seeing success from our Green Entrepreneurs scheme, with local businesses putting forward innovative carbon cutting projects and securing grants from the £2m fund we’ve set up with the University of Derby. Projects like this reflect our enterprising council ethos and are supporting green economic recovery across the county.

Working closely with our communities is one of the most important things we do, and a shining example of this is the first handover of one of our libraries to the community, with Woodville Library now being managed successfully by Circularity, which has a strong local base. More handovers are planned for 2022.

One recent event that is close to my heart is the unveiling of the Grassmoor Covid-19 Memorial Parkland, where I was honoured to be involved in planting one of the trees, along with the council’s Civic Chairman Councillor Jean Wharmby. The multi-faith tree-planting ceremony was incredibly moving and I look forward to watching the parkland take shape, and become a place for quiet contemplation and a lasting tribute to all those who lost their lives to Covid in Derbyshire.  I’m grateful to the Friends of Grassmoor Country Park who have agreed to help the council with the planting and maintenance of the memorial parkland which will contribute to our target of planting a million trees by 2030.

Whatever may be round the corner, I’m looking forward to next year and all it brings, including the celebrations which will spring up around the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

And as we look forward we hope to continue to get our lives, our businesses and our communities back on track and see more positive signs of recovery and improvement. We will continue to play our part by driving forward initiatives that will inspire and help people to achieve their full potential and aspirations.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas and best wishes for 2022.