The Administration keeps saying the local economy is booming.
My view is we need to address the facts.
- Many local jobs depend on retail
- Retail is shrinking- we have had the closures in town of the Coop, the House of Fraser, Monsoon, BHS, Oliver Adams. In Kingsley a Co-op branch is closing, Debenhams is closing some of its warehousing.
- It’s not just the shops and shoppers that are affected- it is all the allied trades- shop fitters, suppliers, drivers
- Some retailers are being forced out of business by other factors- e.g. huge growth in shop lifting. Peppertrees is the latest to report how this is affecting their bottom line.
- All of this is leading to great instability in the work force and a loss of revenue to us through loss of rents and business rates
It is no good the administration telling us meeting after the meeting that the local economy is doing well. It isn’t.
We need a proper examination of exactly what is going on with jobs in this town.
- How many jobs are part time, irregular, zero hours?
- How many of the work force, what percentage, are employed but under employed?
- What is the gender gap in employment and pay in this town?
- What is the mean; what is the average income of our residents?
- 5. What are the high end salaries and what percentage of the work force get that? What are the low end salaries and what percent are on that?
What measures do we have in place to support workers being made redundant? (benefit advice, CV support, Job clubs, Training etc)?
It is about time we took the retail crisis and the jobs crisis in our town seriously.
We need an all-party working group taking a hard look at our local economy. We need to campaign for More and better jobs. More growth. More sustainable development.
It needs to fit with our vision of a unitary authority.
We need to develop a vision for our town centre and our other retail centres. We need them to become more dynamic and less reliant on traditional shopping. Culture, leisure and services may be the way forward.
We cannot continue as a low wage economy where people work hard for poverty wages and then have no disposable income to spend in the town.
We need to be realistic about the future.We need to be the ones who shape that future. Please.
Take my suggestion. Let us set up a Local Economy all party working group.