Rotherham Plan 2025 launched with aims that "will change lives"

By Gareth Dennison | 31/03/2017 0 comments

Rotherham Plan 2025 launched with aims that 'will change lives'
The 28-page plan

SPEAKERS spelled out a positive future for the borough at the launch of the Rotherham Plan 2025.

Figures from the public, private and voluntary sectors detailed achievements and aims at an event at New York Stadium on Wednesday (29).

The 28-page plan sets out five themes — called “game changers” — to focus on to make the borough a better place to live, work, study, visit and invest.

These priorities are the town centre, building stronger communities, skills and employment, integrated health and social care and “a place to be proud of”.

Partnership chairman Cllr Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Borough Council, said a past flaw had been “keeping our heads down too much”.

He said: “If you were in my class at school, you probably thought you had to move away to find work.”

Cllr Chris Read speaking at the event.

That was changing, he added, and more people were becoming proud of living and working in Rotherham. 

He said: “This is a unique moment. The plan sets out a number of game changers that will change lives of people in the borough.”

What do you think of the plans? Are the priorities correct and will the aims be achieved? Click here to send us your thoughts, or leave a comment below.

The game changers

  • Building stronger communities

Rotherham Ethnic Minority Alliance explained a project being carried out with partnership cash to battle hate crime. 

Policy officer Emma Sharp said: “We’ve had harrowing tales of hate crime. I don’t think anyone can understand how that damages somebody’s life, living in fear.

“Proudly, we have seen several ladies going to lots of volunteer opportunities and paid employment because of the confidence they got from the course.”

Hate crime co-ordinator Safina Khatoon added: “Some wouldn’t leave their houses for fear of hate crime, they just didn’t want to go out. 

“We challenged some of those fears. It’s an amazing journey and something we are going to continue doing.”

The new Rotherham Compact is a document which aims to foster partnerships between organisations.

Members of the audience pictured at Wednesday's event.

Cllr Taiba Yasseen, the council’s Cabinet member for culture and neighbourhoods, said: “None of us in this room could do what we say we will without partnerships. For a partnership to exist, it’s got to be thoughtful and respectful. The Rotherham Compact is a tool which allows us to do this.”

Cllr Read said 250 residents have signed up to the council’s Love Where You Live neighbourhoods cleaning campaign, which launched in February.

Measures of success: More residents feeling safe and satisfied where they live, more community involvement

  • Skills and employment

The biggest change will be Rotherham College’s university centre planned for the former hospital site at Doncaster Gate.

It is expected to open in 2018 and will allow 1,000 more people to study in Rotherham.

Only 23 per cent of residents here have higher education qualifications, compared to 36 per cent nationally.

Phil Sayles, deputy principal of RNN Group, which runs the college, said it was important to close that gap.

An artist's impression of Rotherham College's university centre.

A target of 10,000 new jobs in the ten years to 2024 had already passed the 7,000 mark, said Paul Woodcock, the council’s planning, regeneration and culture director.

He added: “That’s a really good start in terms of our economy. The Advanced Manufacturing Park is the jewel in the crown, not just for Rotherham, but for the city region, the northern powerhouse and UK plc. 

“That’s what we need to build on. It’s not just talk, it’s happening now.”

Measures of success: Increase in higher level skills, reduced unemployment

3. Integrated health and social care

Combining resources amid shrinking budgets is a key theme in the health sector, with an aim to support more people to live independently in the community. 

An example of bringing together services is the Urgent and Emergency Care Centre, which will open at Rotherham Hospital on July 6.

This will combine A&E with the walk-in centre on one site, with the aim of reducing the number of patients who currently attend the wrong place.

Chris Edwards, Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group's chief officer, said: “It should be the best facility by far in the region.”

Measures of success: Fewer unscheduled hospital admissions, better support for children and patients with long-term needs

  • A place to be proud of

Julie Kenny, chairman of Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust, told of her delight at securing the £7 million deal to buy the mansion last Friday — to applause from delegates.

“It’s been a four-year battle,” she said. “It was hard work but the really hard work is now going to begin.”

Ms Kenny said the trust now needed to raise between £40 million and £50 million over ten to 15 years for the restoration, with some parts of the building in “dire” need of repair.

Mr Woodcock said the borough would be back on the tourism map with Wentworth Woodhouse in the north and theme park Gulliver’s Valley in the south. 

“We’ve not been on that map for some time,” he added. 

Measures of success: More investment from businesses, more people proud to be live in Rotherham

  • Town centre

The plan acknowledges residents’ reluctance to visit the town centre, with criticism of the night-time offer, fear of crime and lack of retail options.

Sandra Pilson, from Rotherham Business Growth Board said it was important to create a different experience from rival centres like Meadowhall and Parkgate Shopping.

One aim is to entice ten per cent of the visitors to Clifton Park — more than one million a year — into town.

Mrs Pilson said: “I like action. I don’t like talks about talks. I truly believe that we have a great opportunity for an interesting, exciting, activity-filled alternative to Meadowhall. It’s just a shopping centre.”

Measures of success: Better leisure offer (including cinema), more town centre housing, fewer vacant shops

What do you think of the plans? Are the priorities correct and will the aims be achieved? Click here to send us your thoughts, or leave a comment below.

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