Cllr Jill Cleary has now been Leader of New Forest District Council (NFDC) for one year.

With responsibility for the overall strategy of the council and the Cabinet, Cllr Cleary has reflected on her first year and what the priority projects are for the New Forest.

“It’s a privilege to have taken on the role of Leader and to have spent the last 12 months taking on the Leader portfolio, listening to residents, visiting key projects, and working with officers at the council.

It’s important we build a full picture of the district and so we’ve been liaising with local groups, towns and parish councils, the county council, partners, businesses, and voluntary sector organisations to continue making the New Forest a great place to live, work, rest and visit.

Our beaches and local walks provide an excellent space for residents in the district.

It was a real highlight for me to celebrate the work of our coastal and climate team at the New Forest Show in July and promote the importance of protecting our coastline.

As a Cabinet, we’re looking forward to publishing our Corporate Plan which will help to shape services based on the results of the residents’ survey.

We’re working to ensure we’re working in greener and smarter ways.

This includes helping to cut food waste and emissions as part of the waste strategy and making more efficient use of our base at Appletree Court in Lyndhurst.

Continuing to look ahead, we’ve got a brilliant opportunity to develop the Solent Freeport, a hub for global trade and investment.

The effects of the Freeport are going to touch every resident, not just the Waterside. It’s going to create better business opportunities for ordinary people, increase skills and bring investment to the New Forest.

We’re also working towards making a difference in Calshot and support the community there. We’re working to update facilities for residents, improve wellbeing, and find solutions for food insecurity.

We’re liaising with the local community, parish council, and the army welfare team to ensure a holistic approach to supporting young people and families in the village through enhancing the facilities at St George’s Hall.

The space will bring more people together and provide a valued space to support residents in the area.

It’s been a privilege for me to talk with residents in my local ward about a variety of topics, including the extra care housing being built in New Milton.

This will be a great opportunity for New Forest residents and will help our tenants who may need this support.

As councillors, we’re here to talk with residents about the problems they’re experiencing and work with officers to know how to advise on next steps. I’d like to thank staff at NFDC for all they’re working on.

The officers are exceptional at what they do.

I’m passionate about making sure that New Forest District Council continues to be a respected local employer with benefits that support people’s home lives as well as thriving in the workplace.

Watch this space as we continue to make this wonderful area a place to live, work, rest and visit.”