Posted by: nigelashtonuk | October 14, 2014

14 October, 2014 16:46

Dealing with Government and Developers can be very frustrating and it seems to take years to take action on something we all agreed with at the start. It is even worse having to explain to people why nothing appears to be happening, despite the effort going into it. However , just occasionally, it is good to see plans coming together. Although we will still have budget cuts for some years to come, there is evidence of growth across North Somerset and real opportunities for an increase in employment, education, leisure, retail and residential accommodation .

Whatever you think about the recent approval of the vast development at Hinckley, (and we are still trying to oppose some of the worst aspects of the powerlines ), the effect on all of us in North Somerset cannot be ignored. During construction, there will be over 9000 people employed on site and thousands more involved in small businesses supplying everything from materials and skills, to food, transport and everyday living needs as well as securing local jobs.

The opportunities for North Somerset to benefit from the need for an expansion of higher and further education and skills development are central to this work. The range of skills needed in such a complicated scheme is enormous and we are working with the outstanding Weston College to provide the courses necessary and to support its ambition to become a University centre. In the new year we are also starting work on a new legal and professional academy as a key part of the College plans. At the same time there will be an increase in demand for quality accommodation for students, an essential part of the offer from any University.

In the Bath, Bristol and Filton Region, we are also seeing real growth and relocation, as the combined work of the four authorities and the business community invest in new capital projects and award grants to companies that can show a real benefit. North Somerset will again benefit from access to more jobs and accommodation, providing real investment in our local economy across all our towns and villages. This in turn will be a catalyst to further private sector investment in new shopping, leisure and cultural facilities.

We need to reverse the practice in the past of letting shopping areas sprawl across town, pushing accommodation out to the fringes, leaving our town centres deserted and uninviting at night with shops being boarded up as more and more shopping is being done on the internet. We are looking at sites where we can get more people living in our towns, making them more vibrant. Growth is starting and the Council is working with all its partners to make the most of it.