By Michael Prowse / Jobs / / 0 Comments

“Look at this, such a waste, but it’s a perfect spot for a small business hub, or even the council offices.” Richard Scase pointed to the sad-looking, boarded up site of Nasons in Canterbury High Street. Once the flagship department store of the cathedral city, the shop like so many others in the area has ceased trading. A victim of changing consumer habits, the growth of out-of-town retail centres and of course internet shopping.

Mr Scase is Emeritus Professor at the University of Kent. For the past 20 years he has worked with governments, NGO’s and private sector organisations, developing strategies for business formation and growth. In other words he’s an expert. Someone to be taken notice of. Someone who knows what he is talking about.

And in his opinion only a Labour-controlled local council can stop the rot and reverse the decline. “In an internet world, national and global companies are moving their business operations online,” he said. “This means local economies and jobs are vulnerable.”

The passion for enterprise is unmistakable as Mr Scase speaks.  “Canterbury must develop a sustainable local economy for the future. There is the need for local entrepreneurship with businesses owned and controlled by local people. Only in this way can secure and well-paid jobs be created. Today the City’s universities produce highly trained men and women who leave the City after graduation. We need to get them to stay. The council must take the lead here.”

He suggests that a Labour council could create a local enterprise board. This could be funded and run by the local authority with the aim of promoting and investing in new local businesses.
“The role of council is to create the first point of access. It doesn’t need to be too expensive, but imagine the boost if  just six months of working capital could be available to enterprise start ups. Just give people some premises and a bit of funding and watch them fly.”

For all this to happen there needs to be community leadership. A Labour council would set up that enterprise board and back new business ventures. Following the lead of many other towns and cities  it would establish an innovation and enterprise hub in the centre of the city, creating a cluster of high growth, job creating small firms. It would call upon the expertise and talents of local mentors to help young men and women to set-up sustainable businesses, giving them back control and security.”

Mr Scase points to the great location of Canterbury. “It’s less than an hour to London and the quality of life here is so much better. Great countryside and beaches nearby, culture and house prices are much lower. What’s not to like?”

The most important thing, Mr Scase believes, is good leadership. “We need a council that engages the community, that helps our young people to develop their skills and that fosters a wealth-creating local economy.”

Canterbury and Whitstable Labour Party is committed to halting the spiral of decline, creating opportunities and developing the knowledge economy in the Canterbury district. Only with a Labour council can the full potential of the creativity, imagination and skills of residents be realised.

By Simon Warley / JobsServices / / 0 Comments

Gazette readers will be aware that Canterbury Councillors backed a proposal by St Mildred’s Area Community Society (SMACS) to close the Dane John Gardens between 11.00pm and 4.00am. AsCouncillor for Westgateward,I fully support the trial closure. Residents of the Gardens and others in the vicinity are subjected to excessive noise and other disturbances, often throughout the night. The current situation is not fair on residents and council tax payers who live in that area. Hopefully the closure will protect residents against some of the worst behaviour in Canterbury at night.

However, closing the Gardens is not a solution to the wider problems caused by Canterbury’s so-called “night-time economy”. These problemsofteninclude criminal damage to private and commercial premises. The burden of dealing with thisis felt by hard-pressed public services, particularly the Police, ambulance and accident & emergency services. As well asalcohol fuelledcriminal andanti-social behaviour, the proliferation of late-night takeaways has increased the amount of litter and food waste on the streets of my ward and in parts of it there is now a serious problem with rats.

The Kentish Gazette reported on 3/1/2019 (page 10) that the Home Office has identified 222 “alcohol disorder hotspots” across the country and that Canterbury is one of these. Under existing legislation local authorities can make pubs, night-clubs and late-night takeaways pay a levy to fund the cost of extra policing. This is a voluntary scheme with no requirement that local Councils introduceit.Very few Councils have done so and Canterbury City Council has not.The Council should now consider introducing the levy especially as thenationalGovernment is consideringmakingitcompulsory.

The Police are struggling to police the “night-time economy” in Canterbury and a compulsory levy on late-night establishments would provide more money towards policing costs. However,the fundamentalproblemis that the 2003 Licensing Act was misguided and needs to be reformed. There should be much tougher regulation of which premises can obtain late-night licences and a significant reduction in the number of them. We also need more restrictionson the availability of alcohol, including minimum pricing, to discourage excessive binge drinking.

In Canterbury the Conservative administration should admit that it has allowed the current situation to develop without sufficient regulation and that it isblighting the lives of local residents and council tax payers. The “night-time economy” has been encouraged in the misguided belief that any business is good business. The current situation benefits only a very small number of business owners at the expense of thousands of local residents. In addition, the majority of jobs in the “night-time economy” are badly paid ones with poor future prospects. Canterbury City Council must adopt a much tougher and more restrictive approach tofuture applications forlate-night licences.It must not be afraid to revoke existing licences if there is evidence that the establishment is contributing towards criminal or anti-social behaviour.A