Wealden District Council has updated its Corporate Plan to focus on post Covid economic recovery and the all-embracing need to combat climate change.

“Since drawing up this Corporate Plan in 2019 we have faced the largest national peacetime emergency for over a century,” said Council Leader Bob Standley. “We have also responded the climate emergency by drawing up an action plan with the clear ambition to make both this Council, and the District, carbon neutral by 2050 – at the latest.”

“To provide our most effective response, a greater strategic emphasis has been needed. We have re-focussed the 2019-23 Corporate Plan on eight objectives for the next two years:  To ensure that Wealden is Carbon Zero by 2050 at the latest, and to work with partners to regenerate our diverse market towns, creating jobs and attracting investment.

“The events of the past 15 months have highlighted the need to provide a strong local economy, boosting local jobs. This will go hand-in-hand with providing better community services, a better quality of life for all and protecting our unique natural environment,” added Councillor Standley.

Strong local economy

To help boost hospitality economy, which has been badly affected by the pandemic, Wealden will be launching a new tourism strategy next month.  It is also trying to secure up to £17 million through the Government’s Levelling Up fund for a range of health and well-being facilities to enhance Hailsham’s leisure provision. Skills training will be an essential part of the recovery. Working with the Sussex Chamber of Commerce, the Council has helped create up to 500 Kickstart work opportunities for young people on Universal Credit. During the pandemic, it fast-tracked planning procedures for local businesses and paid out more than £61 million in Covid business support grants.

Climate  action

As part of its climate Emergency Action Plan, the Council is looking to reduce the energy demand of its buildings, as well as exploring their potential for generating and storing renewable energy. It is also looking at retrofitting low carbon heating systems across the District. A pilot scheme has been launched to encourage businesses on a Hailsham industrial estate to install renewable technologies to reduce carbon emissions. Other green initiatives, including the promotion of electric vehicle charge points and green wildlife corridors, are linked to Wealden’s emerging Local Plan which is expected to be adopted by the end of 2023.

The eight objectives listed in the Corporate Mid-term Update are:

  • Ensure that Wealden is Carbon Zero by 2050 at the latest.
  • Work with partners to regenerate our diverse market towns, creating jobs and attracting investment.
  • Support our local businesses, tourism sector and entrepreneurs to achieve a locally sustainable economy.
  • Protect and enhance Wealden’s unique natural environment and heritage.
  • Ensure development meets future needs, with associated investment in infrastructure.
  • Promote a better quality of life for Wealden people through activities that improve health, resilience and well-being.
  • Improve access to essential services for all our communities.
  • Generate ongoing sources of income to reinvest in local priorities and optimise funding from external sources.

Other actions outlined in the 2019-23 Corporate Plan will be included in comprehensive service plans across the organisation. The Corporate Plan Mid-term update  can be found on the committee pages of the Wealden website.