A recent report from the South East England Development Agency shows that, while the global and national recovery continues, the area of Swale, which includes Sittingbourne, Faversham and the Isle of Sheppey, will see a much slower pace taking up to 15 more years!
Some parts of Kent will reach a full recovery over the next year or two. For Swale, however, output is estimated to return to pre-recession levels (2007) in 2015, while the level of employment to recover is expected to take until 2025!
These are, of course, estimates but what is clear is that the area is recovering much more slowly than the rest of Kent and desperately needs help. The local economy and jobs were issues raised with us time and time again during the election campaign. Sheppey especially has amongst the highest levels of unemployment in Kent.
So what does Swale Council plan to do? Does the Tory-dominated council plan to take advantage of the government’s schemes to set up Local Enterprise Partnerships which would encourage business to invest and create jobs? Er, no. The government received 56 proposals, including one from Kent and Medway. From Swale, not a whisper - despite the obvious need.
OK, so what have the Council done instead or are intending to do? The answer seems to be absolutely nothing. The Council continue to sleepwalk happily oblivious to the problems of Swale. The Sittingbourne ‘Masterplan’ continues to be awaited while shops and businesses continue to close. I mentioned in a previous entry that the local transport plan is scheduled for 20 years. One wonders how badly the situation has to get to inject some urgency into the Council.
We can only hope that our new MP brings this report to the attention of his colleagues and tell them to get a move on and do something. Otherwise, the future does not look bright.