Political column: Labour’s David Burling says...

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Last week brought the unwelcome news that the UK’s economy had fallen back into recession.

Along with unemployment figures that showed Grantham’s unemployment had increased from 3.1per cent to 3.4per cent in 12 months, this is not good news for families across our town.

This shows that, now more than ever, the right choices need to be made to ensure that our local economy grows and creates the jobs necessary to stop the rises in unemployment.

Last year in my column, I talked about jobs in Grantham and how South Kesteven District Council needs to focus on employment to start to grow our town out of the economic downturn.

I feel that this still needs to be the focus, and delivering not only jobs, but creating the right environment for investment must be the priorities of the economic development team.

Creating jobs in the centre of town is vital. Building and creating office space for workers in the town centre is essential to create a bustling town centre every day, not just on the traditional shopping days.

It is important to make sure that the independent retailers are on a level playing field with the supermarkets and market traders, by looking to provide free parking for a certain period, making sure market stalls do not block off or obscure permanent retail establishments, and by making the best use of the new and improved market square.

In addition to this, with the new developments proposed, how much of the labour that is required in delivering these 4,000 houses will be local? Are there agreements in place with the proposed developers so that local builders, tilers, joiners and merchants will be used to deliver the project? I hope so, and if not, then it should form part of the negotiations.

Growing the town is a good idea, as long as it is done in a way where the town centre and its infrastructure can support a town of that size.

Changes can and should be to level the field for independent retailers, but above all the creation of jobs will help grow the local and national economy out of recession.

DAVID BURLING, Chair, Grantham and Stamford Constituency Labour Party