Mansfield Mayor's blog

Keep up to date with what the Executive Mayor of Mansfield, Andy Abrahams, is focusing on.

Latest blog post

Setting the course for a better future

We have seen many changes in the district over the last few years, not least the effects of a global pandemic and the ongoing challenges of higher inflation on the cost of living. At the same time, we have been successful in securing Levelling Up funding from the government to help us regenerate our district. As such, it has been necessary to look at the council's overall strategy again to consider the shifts in the economic environment and ensure that the authority is addressing the most urgent local needs in a financially resilient way.

‘Towards 2030: A Strategy for Mansfield’ sets out the council's ambitions for the future. We have a big far reaching agenda that is focused on five themes: our communities, our district, our economy, our environment, and our council, under the overall goal - to be an ambitious, caring, and confident district where everyone can prosper. There are already many schemes that are starting to deliver our ambitious programme. You can read the revised strategy in full here. (opens in new window)

The transformational Mansfield Connect project has taken another step forward with the phase one design works contract being awarded to Kier Group Ltd. The aim of the project is to create a multi-agency hub that will deliver to local businesses twofold. Firstly, it will increase footfall in the town by having a one-stop shop for council services, education, benefits, and job support. Secondly, our town centre businesses will further reap the benefits with all these staff and additional visitors using eateries, shopping for goods, and enjoying what the town offers. The Mansfield Connect building will be both refurbished and rebuilt to ensure maximum value for money, while retaining important heritage assets. It is anticipated that the front art deco of the former Co-op building will be retained, and the remaining parts of the building will be demolished and a new building created. It is also anticipated that the existing two shopping link footbridges over Stockwell Gate will be removed within the scheme, opening the entrance to the town centre, and unlocking its vibrancy.

We have just launched our new homelessness strategy for the next five years (opens in new window), which builds on the successes we have achieved. In the recent past, there were issues in the town centre with people sleeping rough, drug taking, begging, and antisocial behaviour. Through positive partnership working between many agencies, including the police, the council's housing team, community safety, and the Mansfield BID (business investment district), we have created a welcoming and safe environment for residents and visitors to the town. Our award-winning First Steps scheme has helped break the cycle of homelessness by providing a wraparound package of support to help address often complex needs such as mental health issues and substance misuse. We are a caring council, and our strategy has six strategic priorities: early intervention, an accessible responsive service, access to sustainable accommodation, developing pathways, improving life chances, and delivering holistic support to find long-term solutions.

I always say actions speak louder than words, so I am pleased that I have been able to help another 15 worthwhile voluntary projects by donating £4,550 out of my Mayoral allowance into the Mayor’s 500 Fund that I set up in 2019.

8 May 2024

Mansfield at the forefront of new ideas to look after our residents

Time and again, I get a gush of pride when Mansfield makes the news for being at the forefront of progressive ideas for the benefit of our residents. Sometimes, it is the smaller, less-publicised things that have the most significant and meaningful impact.

I want to say a big thank you to our community safety team, which applied for funding to purchase and install trauma kits in 75 locations across the town centre and district. They were inspired by Dr. Lynne Baird MBE who has led the campaign in Birmingham to install the kits, which will help stop serious blood loss in the event of an emergency. Dr. Baird started her mission following the death of her son and the lack of first aid equipment nearby, which could have saved him. Mansfield is taking the lead in the East Midlands, being the first local authority outside London and the West Midlands to take up this initiative.

I was so pleased with our crematorium staff’s decision to organise a themed service for Mother's Day at our Thoresby Chapel last Sunday. We all know that, for many of us, our mums have been the most influential person in our lives. This service brought comfort for family and friends paying personal tributes to their loved ones who had passed away but were still present in their hearts.

We are going the extra mile to continue our campaign to reduce anti-social behaviour and change our residents’ perceptions of our town centre. With a focus on the nighttime economy, we will be introducing street guardians who will be trained to spot the signs and prevent violence against women and girls. We anticipate there will be uniformed and plain clothes officers around nighttime venues. We will also be reinvigorating the ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign, which allows women who feel unsafe to discreetly approach venue staff for help.

Mansfield has taken the lead to inform all our staff to be vigilant to identify potential victims of domestic abuse and was recognised as a beacon of good practice when awarded DAHA accreditation last year. Our museum team has been supporting women with support from key partners such as NIDAS, NSUSS, Women's Aid, and Jigsaw for the last two years. The ‘Art Power’ project, which was shortlisted for a Museum’s Association award, has delivered 160 workshops and cultural outings to more than fifty women who were survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. The ‘Art Power’ exhibition was officially opened on 8 March to coincide with International Women's Day and runs through until 26 March.

We are always looking for ways to support our residents through the ongoing cost of living crisis, and so I am pleased to announce that a new ‘Food Cycle’ community food project will be launched at the Salvation Army on 11 March at 4pm. It’s a free meal service for anyone that provides a hearty, cooked meal and company. If you want to volunteer help, contact Pamela on 07377 866 347. We are doing everything we can to explore new ways to deliver my election pledge to ‘Protect and Care for Our Communities’.

6 March 2024

Setting the record straight on balancing the budget

The financial challenges the Council are facing to address the £5 million budget deficit from 2024 to 2027 have been well documented.

My first point is to reiterate that we will be taking all the measures required to balance the budget in the fairest way possible to protect our communities and ensure the regeneration of our town and surrounding district continues.

It is important that I communicate to the Mansfield public the many challenges that my administration has had to face since I was first elected in 2019 to set the record straight. Challenges and financial consequences have included the cost of repairing the cliff face collapse in Berry Hill quarry, the effects of COVID on the local economy, and unanticipated pressures on the capital budget from properties, assets and investments owned by the Council. There has also been a record increase in the inflation rate and energy prices.

The economic backdrop has made balancing the budget so difficult. We receive 60 percent less funding from the central government now than in 2010. Also, the cost of delivering services has raised expediently.

We have had to review every aspect of the services we provide to achieve a balanced budget. This has involved reviewing hundreds of operations, including all the non-discretionary services such as grant-in-aid, subsidising the market and the events we deliver. The council will need to make almost £1m of establishment savings in year one, which will reduce our workforce.

My message is that the council, businesses and communities must work together as ‘Team Mansfield’ as we can no longer afford to do everything we have previously delivered.

It is important to put the reduction in the provision of services to balance the budget into perspective against the multi-million pounds of investment that we have attracted, including £20m from the Levelling Up fund, £12.3m from Towns Fund and recently announced another £20m as part of the Levelling Up Partnership. The opportunities this funding will bring are guaranteed to improve the lives of all our residents.

The council's £42m capital programme includes flagship developments such as Mansfield Connect, putting people and services back in the town centre, Berry Hill destination park, Warsop health hub and SMART Mansfield to put the town at the forefront of digital technology.

Funding has also been identified to invest in community facilities, including park pavilions and improvements to the theatre museum and to car parks. We will continue to support start-up businesses and upskill our young people and existing workforce so that they can earn higher wages in the future through the council’s skills plan.

In terms of housing, the council will also deliver a £40m new build programme by 2027 across three major housing schemes at Centenary Road, White Hart Street, and on the Bellamy and Oak Tree estates.

The fantastic number of free events the council will deliver with £450,000 worth of government and Arts Council investment over the next two years includes the Light Night festival in Carr Bank Park in February, followed by the Mansfield Carnival and Mansfield Film Festival.

I am confident that we will continue to strike the right balance between keeping our financial books in order, delivering important services to the community, and attracting investment to move our town and district forward. That’s the record straight!

17 January 2024