AT Christmas and New Year, it is appropriate to reflect on the past twelve months within the City of Lisburn and look forward to the opportunities that 2011 will bring.
Since being elected as Mayor of Lisburn last June I have spent a lot of time with individuals, groups and organisations across the City who work at a grass roots level for the benefit of the whole community. I have been amazed by the outstanding work of such individuals from right across the City Council area, and would like to take this opportunity to thank them for all their dedication and hard work helping others.
I have also been privileged to meet with members of the Armed Forces and their families on several occasions. I respect the bravery and selflessness of our soldiers as they fight for the safety of others; and admire those who wait patiently at home for the safe return of their loved ones. I would also like to commend the outstanding work of the Royal British Legion to support serving and injured soldiers and their families.
Lisburn benefited from investment in 2010 with the opening of the new Coca Cola Island of Ireland facility, the Dobbies Garden World store, a new headquarters for Graham Construction and the launch of the Lisburn City Centre Masterplan. This 15-year strategy sets the vision for the economic development of the City; and aims to ensure that the City Centre protects and capitalises on the existing assets of its vibrant centre, Historic Quarter and Laganbank Quarter.
I had the privilege of opening the much-anticipated new state of the art play area at Wallace Park in July and to date it has provided hours of enjoyment for thousands of young people. This play area, which is used by children of all abilities, was Phase One of a two-phase project, which when completed will represent an investment of approximately £3 million by the Council.
The ever-growing popularity of Lisburn was evident in 2010 with thousands of visitors attending events throughout the Lisburn Council area and spending money in the local economy Lisburn City Council is committed to hosting quality events such as the Garden Show Ireland, the National Countrysports Fair, the Half Marathon and the Ulster Grand Prix; and it aims to build on such previous successes in 2011.
Last year the Council worked hard with the support of the local community to lobby the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust to ensure that its proposals to modernise local healthcare have a minimum impact on Lagan Valley Hospital. The Council will be keeping a close eye on these proposals as they progress to development stage and will endeavour to keep the public updated.
As 2010 passes and 2011 stretches out ahead of us, I have no doubt that it will bring with it many challenges and opportunities for everyone. In my capacity as Mayor and with the Council's full support, I will continue to lobby for the John Lewis development to be constructed at Sprucefield Park.
Lisburn City Council is well placed to work with its ratepayers in 2011 to continue to provide quality services and meet the challenges ahead. For the past five years, this Council has successfully managed to keep its rates below the level of inflation having introduced the second lowest district rate in Northern Ireland over this period.
In 2011, the Council will endeavor to build on this experience an. strive to set the lowest possible rat increase for 2011, as it is very aware of the current economic climate and the problems being experienced b householders and businesses across the City. I have every confidence that our City will meet both challenges and opportunities in 2011 wit success. The Council will continue to provide improved services, ne facilities and great events for its ratepayers to include the Mayor's Parade and a concert in Wallace Park.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all residents and visitors to the Lisburn City area a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year.