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'Our Town. Our Future' theme of Mayor's annual business reception

Tuesday, 19 April 2016 22:31

Her Worship the Mayor Councillor Sara Hackman JP has called for a strengthening of ties between the Council and local business as a means to drive economic development in Douglas.


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Her Worship was speaking at the Mayor’s annual business reception before an invited audience drawn largely from the town’s business community. Also attending were guests from Ballamoney - now part of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council - the County Antrim town with which Douglas enjoys a twinning agreement: Her Worship the Mayor Councillor Michelle Knight-McQuillan, Alderman John Finlay and twinning association vice-chair Arlene McVicker.


 ABallamoney BSC9984 MediumCauseway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Alderman John Finlay, extreme left, the Mayor, Councillor Michelle Knight-McQuillan, centre, and twinning association vice-chairman Arlene McVicker with Douglas Borough Councillor Stephen Pitts, second left and Stephen Bradley


The reception opened with a welcome from Council Leader Councillor David Christian MBE JP who explained how, when serving as Mayor of Douglas in 1997, he had introduced the event as a means to engage and work more closely with the business community. He expressed his pleasure at seeing ‘many familiar faces’ and also a number of those newer to the capital’s business scene and spoke of the invaluable contribution all parties could make to creating a resilient economy for Douglas.


 AHamish BSC9999 MediumHamish Ross, Jane Dellar, Peter Duke, Arlene McVicker and Peter Horsthuis


In her speech Her Worship said ‘Our Town. Our Future’ had been chosen as the theme as it would ‘set the tone’ for how the Council hoped to work with the business community and with government ‘to create a capital we can be proud of’ and ‘a capital new enterprises will want to invest in’.


 AStuart BSC9992 MediumPeter Irving and Stuart McCudden


To achieve this would have to be ‘a shared responsibility’ and Her Worship issued a call to action for closer collaboration and greater innovation.


 ADermot BSC9981 MediumDermot Hamill, Rob O’Connor, Caroline Callow and Winston Taylor


She outlined changes implemented in the Council’s senior management structure, notably the formation of the Environment and Regeneration Department which encompassed Town Centre Management. The Department would play ‘a central role in raising our capital’s profile and securing its future prosperity’, working closely with the Douglas Regeneration Committee to present a confident image to investors.


In support of these goals the Council had established an Economic Development Fund; was adopting a more entrepreneurial approach; continuing its investment in town centre regeneration; extending CCTV coverage; and converting 4000 street lamps across the Borough to LED; while the relocation of the Henry Bloom Noble Library to Duke Street had ‘breathed new life’ into a flagship site.


Separately the Council had revived the practice of offering apprentices in a move to create a skilled workforce, prompting Her Worship to comment: ‘As a Council, Douglas is proud to be supporting young people’s career aspirations, helping them to experience the sense of purpose, pride and self-respect having a job brings. The Council is also proud to be playing its part in creating the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.’


Her Worship said the Council was ‘raising its ambitions’ and responding to the ‘shift in the landscape’ of how Douglas operated and was governed. In closing she said: ‘The Council is resolved to unlock more opportunities to work in partnership with business so that together, we can drive economic development in our town for our future.’


With the 2015-2016 municipal year nearing its end the reception closed with a vote of thanks to Her Worship from Councillor Christian on behalf of the Council for her commitment and service as Mayor of Douglas.