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Labour is not working for our area

January 28, 2009

column-picture1On Monday, an independent report from the London-based think-tank, Centre for Cities, was launched.

The report was funded by the Local Government Association and ‘looks back at the recent economic performance of UK cities as well as the main policy milestones of 2008. It also looks ahead to the prospects for UK cities in 2009 and beyond.’

Hastings is mentioned a number of times.

Whilst I am sure that socio-economic reasons play their part, I am pleased to report that (in 2006) Hastings came out on top of the table for average, per capita, carbon emissions.

However this is where the good news ends.

There are a whole host of statistics which are extremely worrying for our area. The two most concerning being (first) that between 2000 and 2008, the percentage of the community on benefits actually increased by 0.4%, and that (second) Hastings is at the bottom of the table of average weekly wages for the whole country.

I was interviewed by South East Today on Friday about this report, and was asked by BBC reporter Paul Siegert to give a Liberal Democrat perspective.

He asked how the Lib Dems would increase wages in the local area.

What I said to Paul was that our party would scrap the Government’s cut in VAT and we would re-invest this £12.5 billion in energy conservation and other environment-conscious projects. I have mentioned our ‘Green Road out of the Recession’ plan in a previous column.
The plan specifies among other things insulation for hospitals and schools, to build zero carbon homes, and to address the capacity and infrastructure of our rail network.

These measures would be good news for our local construction industry in particular. But we need to train and skill people so that they are ready to take up the opportunities as and when they come along.

Liberal Democrats will also seek to put more money in the pockets of lower income families by taking the bottom 10% out of tax altogether, and reducing the base rate by 4p in the pound.

Our plan to abolish the Council Tax and to replace it with a local income tax predicated on people’s ability to pay would have its own positive impact on the disposable income of our low-paid families.

This coming Friday evening, we will have an emergency debate on the Economy, hosted by the local branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (at the Jali Restaurant in Hastings).

I am sure that our Labour MP will have some excuses up his sleeve for the Government’s management of the Economy, as well as the depressing results in the Cities Outlook 2009 report.

They will have to be pretty bloody good.

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