Derby Telegraph Column

Published in the Derby Telegraph, 2nd August 2013

We’ve had encouraging news on the economy in the past couple of weeks, with last Friday’s news that GDP grew by 0.6% in the last quarter, and more good news on falling unemployment.

The growth in the economy exceeded most experts’ expectations, and it’s especially encouraging to see that there was growth in all major sectors of the economy. These include manufacturing and construction, which are vital to the national recovery, but also very important here in Amber Valley.

This news confirms that our plan to get Britain back on track is working. We’ve seen falling unemployment and strengthening growth. A large component of this plan is our structural deficit reduction strategy – we’ve now cut a third of the deficit and without our plan, market interest rates would not be as low as they are now. We must stay the course if we are to further strengthen Britain’s economy and get back to where we were before the financial crisis.

Nationally over the past year we’ve seen a record number of people in work, and the number of jobs created in the private sector since 2010 reach 1.3 million, outnumbering those lost in the public sector by five to one – something that Ed Miliband said would be impossible.

During the election campaign I pledged that if elected, reducing unemployment in Amber Valley would be one of my main priorities. Locally unemployment now stands at 2.9%, down from 4.1% at the time of the last General Election. Whilst this is encouraging in itself, I feel that we need to do more.

I’ve already been doing a lot on unemployment in the form of supporting many local start-ups and expanding businesses in their efforts to generate jobs for local people – but I’m keen to build on these achievements.

I’m pleased to say that I am to hold the first Amber Valley Jobs Fair. The event will take place on 6th September between 10 AM and 4 PM at Ripley Leisure Centre.

I’d encourage anyone looking for work or opportunities to come along – there’ll be around thirty local employers, small and large, and training providers which will be showcasing current and upcoming opportunities.

The event is free of charge to attend to both constituents and employers. The Borough Council has kindly agreed to provide free parking for motorists and trent barton is supporting the event by providing half price bus travel to the fair. You may find out more on the event’s web site at www.ambervalleyjobsfair.co.uk.

Planning issues continue to be of concern for many of my constituents. There was some good news recently when the local Council refused four applications for large-scale solar farms on green belt land – this week the Government announced new guidance giving communities a greater say in these applications. While wind turbines and solar farms have their place as part of our energy generation mix, they should not be allowed anywhere and everywhere. I welcome therefore that the Government has listened to those like me who have raised concerns and strengthened the guidance.

Finally, the latest version of the Amber Valley draft Local Plan is currently open for consultation. The plan still sets out a need for 9400 new houses over the period to 2028 and includes eight growth sites (including two in the green belt at Codnor and Ripley). I remain of the view that this level of housing growth is too high and that some brownfield sites need to be considered more closely, I would urge constituents to respond to the Council before the deadline of August 23rd.