By Chairman Councillor Tony Quinn
AS Chairman of Cookstown District Council, I wish to offer seasonal greetings and best wishes to everyone throughout the Cookstown District Council area for 2013.
I would like to extend a warm welcome to those who have returned to our District over the festive period to spend time with loved ones.
In this season of goodwill we are especially mindful of those who are less fortunate than ourselves, at home and abroad, and those who will be alone over the festive period. We spare a thought for them.
This past year has continued to be extremely challenging for businesses in the Mid Ulster area as they continue to grapple with the impact of the serious economic difficulties still facing the global community.
Council is fully aware of the financial demands and pressures faced by local businesses and residents at a time of great austerity and joblessness, anxiety and uncertainty, and ways to assist and alleviate such pressures are continually at the forefront of our minds.
As we look towards 2013, we will endeavour to continue ensuring that opportunities are presented which will contribute to rebalancing and maintaining the economic and social wellbeing of the whole community, boosting jobs and growth.
Local government is currently undergoing enormous change and we stand on the cusp of a new Mid Ulster Council as the planned pace of reform accelerates throughout 2013.
All businesses need to embrace some degree of development and change so that they can move forward.
Cookstown District Council intends to continue to embrace the positive opportunities for the Cookstown District that arise and to be at the forefront of local government, community leadership and service delivery throughout the entire change process.
In these extremely tough fiscal times, Cookstown District Council continues to lead through prudent and careful management in the delivery of services and providing facilities to meet the needs and expectations of local people.
Recognition of the high levels of service delivery has been given to a number of our facilities and services this year, including our Multi-Sectoral Tendering Programme (Winner of the Best European Funded Project at the Local Government Awards; our Hearty Lives - Heart Health Learning Disability Programme (Winner of the British Heart Foundation National Award for Partnership Working) and most recentlY, this December as the William Keown Trust has awarded Cookstown Leisure Centre its “Prestige Access” Award.
Throughout 2012, Council has continued to deliver key strategic events including Cookstown Together, the spectacular Halloween fireworks display at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena, and the switching on of the Christmas lights in a beautifully lit town centre which this year attracted more people than ever before. The eyes of the world were upon us in August as we welcomed the Olympic Flame into the Cookstown District in support of London 2012 and held a hugely successful Paralympic Flame Celebration later in the summertime.
We have exciting plans in place to further build and develop key facilities throughout our District over the next three years. Such investment will cement Cookstown District Council’s position as being one of the most prudent but progressive and innovative Council’s within Northern Ireland, delivering on behalf of our citizens.
We in Cookstown District Council pride ourselves upon our close and positive working relationship that has been established with our business community. We continue to work together with local and regional funding bodies to secure funding to deliver innovative programmes which are specifically designed to equip local businesses with the expertise and knowledge to compete in the current economic climate.
We are particularly recognised for our concerted efforts towards enhancing the performance of the Town Centre and businesses therein. We continue to invest significantly in supporting retail and promoting the Town Centre as the ‘Retail Capital of Mid Ulster’. In this challenging climate it is incumbent upon us all to support our local traders. I can assure the business community, that Cookstown District Council will continue to lead from the front in promoting Cookstown as a key retail destination.
I wish to acknowledge the tremendous work undertaken by the Community and Voluntary sector throughout our District. The efforts of such organisations and individuals assist and improve the lives of many on a daily basis. Such work often goes unnoticed; however, Cookstown District Council wishes to record its gratitude for your tireless efforts and invaluable contribution to society.
May I also pay tribute to the performances of individuals and organisations in the field of arts, education, sport, and business. Many have attained national and international recognition which is a direct result of their commitment and dedication to their relevant discipline. I wholeheartedly congratulate you all. Year on year the achievements and talent throughout the District continue to grow, providing an inspiration to others to work hard and achieve their ambitions.
It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the accolade which Cookstown was awarded in July, of ‘Northern Ireland’s Best Kept Medium-Sized Town 2012’. This award was the result of the concerted efforts of the Council, local businesses, schools and residents, to ensure Cookstown is a vibrant place to live, work and invest. It is a great achievement for Cookstown to be publically recognised as Northern Ireland’s Best Kept Medium Sized Town, and a tribute to each and every individual both resident and visitor alike. I commend all involved and look forward to further successes in 2013.
On behalf of Cookstown District Council, I wish to thank the general public for the support you have shown to us over the last year. May I wish all our citizens, your families and extended families a very Happy and Peaceful 2013.
Councillor Tony Quinn, Chairman, Cookstown District Council