I am also the lead member for economic growth, and represent the council on the Destination Chesterfield Board, Staveley Town Deal Board and a range of other economy-focussed partnership forums.
Working alongside our partners, I’m passionate about making a difference on the issues that matter to our local residents and business communities, while championing Chesterfield as a place punching above its weight on the regional map.
To help achieve this, we work in close partnership with Destination Chesterfield to showcase the borough as a thriving place to live, work, visit and invest.
As a council our remit and responsibility is wide, touching many aspects of people’s lives.
We deliver over 50 services to the borough’s residents, tenants, businesses and visitors –
guided by the priorities set out in our Council Plan 2023 – 2027, which are:
Making Chesterfield a thriving borough; Improving quality of life for local people; Building a resilient council
Working with key partners, we are firmly committed to ensuring Chesterfield is in the
strongest possible position to thrive now and for generations to come – adapting to emerging challenges and building on the town’s economic and community resilience.
What was the greatest achievement for your business or organisation over the past year?
It’s been such a great year full of milestones and successes that it’s hard to single
any out. But I think seeing the completion of two of our flagship new developments – the
Northern Gateway Enterprise Centre and One Waterside Place – is definitely among the highlights. Chesterfield did not stand still even in the face of the pandemic.
We emerged from that crisis in a strong position – opening the doors to these two excellent buildings that are providing new homes for small businesses adapting to a post-covid world, while ensuring bigger companies see Chesterfield as a place to invest and do business.
We were also successful in securing almost £2.7 million from the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).
The money will be spent over the next three financial years (running until 2024/25) on a range of projects which will benefit local residents and businesses, and to help raise Chesterfield’s profile as a visitor destination.
Finally, I must make mention of our triumph in the 2022 East Midlands in Bloom awards, where our town was the winner in the ‘Small City’ category!
Chesterfield has so many beautiful green spaces, colourful floral displays and innovative community projects which is really important in helping create a lovely place to live, work and visit. The fact that we were named the second best place in the country to raise a family in a national survey in 2023 is testament to this!
How would you describe Chesterfield and North Derbyshire, using only three words?
Thriving, ambitious and resilient
What are your favourite places to visit in Chesterfield and why?
I enjoy walking along the Chesterfield canal stopping for a breather and refreshments at Tapton Lock Visitor Centre or the Hollingwood Hub.
I am really looking forward to the reopening of the theatre and museum following the multi
million pound refurbishment of the Stephenson Memorial Hall.
In the meantime, I’m enjoying the wide-ranging programme at the Winding Wheel Theatre which opened 100 years ago as a picture palace. This will be celebrated between September 10 to 15 with an exhibition and tours of the building.
How is your business or organisation becoming more sustainable?
Taking action to reduce our carbon emissions and environmental impact is at the heart of how we do business, guided by our climate change strategy which runs from 2023 to 2030.
We are already making good progress towards our own target of becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2030 – leading the way to take real action, now, to help safeguard the future of our borough.
This includes things like investing millions into improving the energy efficiency of our council homes, reviewing how we use our buildings and vehicles and taking action to offset carbon emissions, such as planting thousands of trees across the borough.
But we know we can’t do this alone and we must work together and take action as a community, to make sure we create a greener way of life – and can pass a more sustainable Chesterfield to our future generations.
Our target for the borough as whole is to become carbon neutral by 2050. That’s a big ambition and it requires people and businesses to take action now.
Small changes do add up to a big difference and I’d encourage businesses and residents
across Chesterfield to find out more about our climate change work, and how they could also make a difference. You can visit our Climate Action Now pages on our website.
Why do you love working or doing business in Chesterfield or North Derbyshire?
I believe Chesterfield really does stand out as a place with so much going for it – and we all need to do more to shout about how great our borough is.
We are a place of action and vision – we work together, whether that be through our business networks, community and voluntary groups or formal partnership forums, to understand and adapt to the challenges that come our way.
How are you supporting young people in your business through apprenticeships, traineeships or work experience and how are young people contributing to the success of your business?
Supporting young people to gain the skills, experience and networks they need to set out on a strong path when they enter the world of work is at the heart of many of our initiatives, including those that we deliver in partnership.
As an employer itself, the council champions the value of apprenticeships. We employ a number of staff in this way, and also encourage services to build apprenticeship opportunities into the development of their teams.
We have previously been named as one of the top 100 apprenticeship employers in the UK – a record that I’m very proud of.
We champion apprenticeships and we were the first place to declare ourselves as an Apprentice Town.
We use a local labour clause in major planning applications which makes sure that new development really benefits local people, and creates new opportunities for work and skills development. It’s a key way in which we’re able to make a difference to the lives and opportunities of local residents.
We also have a number of regeneration projects underway which have skills development at their heart – such as the Construction Skills Hub and DRIIVe railway training centre which are being delivered as part of the Staveley Town Deal.
How are you, your business or your team supporting local people?
Supporting local people is at the core of our Council Plan. We deliver over 50 services to the borough’s residents, tenants, businesses and visitors – from those which are universal and used by everyone, to services which are there to provide support when people are facing some of the most difficult periods of their lives.
In times of hardship or challenge, our role to support people is never more important and over recent years we have seen demand for some of our services increase as people find themselves struggling with things out of their control – including many issues arising from the cost of living crisis, such as homelessness and debt problems.
Ultimately everything we do is about improving the lives of people in Chesterfield and creating a local economy where businesses can thrive and people can succeed.
What support or advice has your business received recently and how has it benefited your business?
As a council this is a tricky to answer this in the same way as a business would, but I would say our ‘advice’ comes in the form of feedback from our residents and businesses – through formal consultation, engagement activities and surveys, for example.
We’re always keen to understand the views of local people and make sure that they have an opportunity to shape our services – telling us where they think we’re doing well, and where they feel we could make improvements.
Which upcoming development do you think will have the greatest impact on the town and why?
With around £2billion worth of growth planned for the borough it’s hard to pick one! But I think the things that will feel most real and beneficial to local people is our investment in Chesterfield and Staveley town centres.
In Chesterfield, we will see the major phases of the Revitalising the Heart of Chesterfield project come to life in early 2024. A lot of hard work is going on behind the scenes and we will soon be into the delivery phase.
This multi-million pound regeneration scheme is about improving the look, feel and flow of Chesterfield town centre, and ensuring we create a vibrant market town that can thrive for generations to come.
This will be complemented but the major refurbishment of our historic Stephenson Memorial Hall, which houses the Pomegranate Theatre and Chesterfield Museum – creating a striking new cultural attraction for residents and visitors alike to enjoy.
People can find out more at www.chesterfield.gov.uk/revitalise
In Staveley town centre, a £4.86 million package is underway as part of the wider regeneration happening under the Staveley Town Deal. This includes the refurbishment of the Market Square and rejuvenation of the High Street.
What is your vision for Chesterfield and North Derbyshire in 2030? What do you think the town needs to achieve this?
I think Chesterfield is definitely on the right track to continue to grow as a thriving borough, with a strong and resilient local economy – with projects throughout this column showing just some of the examples of how we’re working with partners to turn our collective ambitions into a reality.
I am confident in our ability to remain resilient and innovative in the face of adversity. Whether that be re-imagining how we use our town centres in response to the changing landscape, to making the best use of opportunities that come our way to make sure that local people and businesses benefit.
And, of course, continuing to work together to create a greener, sustainable and healthy community that we can pass on to our future generations with pride.