Change is on way in Peak

‘Snow angels’ to clear roads, £1,000 for each councillor to give to community projects and a boost to recycling are among the targets the new leader of High Peak Borough Council has set for her administration.

Buxton’s Councillor Caitlin Bisknell, told Wednesday’s full council meeting: “We face difficult and challenging times ahead and I hope we can work together.”

One of the first moves of the new administration would be reviewing the alliance with neighbouring Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to make sure that High Peak was getting a fair deal – although High Peak would not be withdrawing from it.

Joining her in the slimmed-down executive team will be Deputy Leader Anthony McKeown from Glossop, who will be responsible for community services, Tim Norton from Chapel who will oversee Corporate Services, while Ian Huddlestone from New Mills will oversee Regeneration.

“The precise detail of each portfolio is currently under discussion and will be announced at the first executive meeting on June 7,” said Cllr Bisknell.

She revealed that one of the administration’s first tasks would be to prepare an emergency budget which would revise some of the timescales and priorities in the council’s Medium-Term Financial Plan, while maintaining savings of £3.5m and keeping Council Tax at the same low levels as previously agreed.

After the meeting Cllr Bisknell said she would be pressing Buxton Swimming Pool’s operators, DC Leisure, to allow local primary schools and the town’s swimming club a sneak preview of the transformed facility before it officially re-opens.

“There will also be a full review into what went wrong with the Buxton Pool project to ensure that any lessons are learned,” she said.

Cllr Bisknell said she was determined to promote kerbside recycling and to look at better ways of recycling plastics to improve the borough’s current recycling rate of 42 per cent.

Thought was also being given to allocating around £1,000 to each 43 councillors for them to spend on community projects in their ward.

As part of the new administration’s determination to involve local people in the council’s work, Cllr Bisknell vowed to work with partners including Derbyshire County Council to recruit and train volunteer “snow angels” to help clear snow and grit pavements if High Peak were hit by a third successive severe winter.

This follows the successful DreamScheme initiative piloted by High Peak Community Housing in Fairfield last winter, when young people helped to clear snow from the paths around sheltered homes for the elderly.