For the next few years our local economy will be living with the effects of the pandemic, and any promises made here need to be responsive to that. Some of the challenges remain the same as before, especially how we ensure that our market towns and high streets remain resilient and can continue to thrive.
Our district has the highest number of small and micro businesses in Gloucestershire, so it is vital we create right circumstances for them to grow. We need to keep local decent jobs and support our home-grown businesses, large and small, as well as ensuring those who work for themselves have the support they need.
It is critical that our district’s economy remains resilient in the years ahead and starts to make the transition to the low carbon economy of the future. We need to change our ways and learn how to live well without pushing our demands beyond the limit of what our planet can support.
In recent years we’ve been inspired by the success of Labour councils boosting their local economies by ‘community wealth building’, enabling the benefits of economic development to be retained locally. It’s a people and community-centred approach to economics so that when wealth is created by a community it is stays in the area in which it was earned.
The council has an important role to play in this, through how it chooses to spend public money on good and services, who it awards contracts to, and how it is a role model and influencer as one of the major employers in the district.
• Create an economic development strategy with a focus on supporting market towns and specific sectors for example those most impacted by the pandemic: high street businesses, hospitality and events, and those in the visitor economy
• Work with partners across Gloucestershire to grow the visitor economy
• Support the growing of skills needed locally especially in the low carbon and visitor economy
• Support projects that provide for training and secure future skills for apprentices, the young and unemployed
Keep it local
• Create a ‘favoured trader’ list of local businesses that are living wage employers and who align with the council’s own social and low carbon values
• Introduce local incentives on low carbon goods and services, and strengthen local supply chains
• Protect existing employment sites to ensure the district has a diverse and adequate supply to meet existing business needs and attract new businesses
• Continue to support the Think Local, Shop Local campaign
Keep it fair and equal
• Promote a local economy with a diversity of business ownership and models: locally owned and social enterprises; self-employed and micro-businesses, co-operatives, community ownership and local private ownership
• Grow the cooperative sector in the district
• Working with trade unions to support fair employment, encouraging more local businesses and organisations to be real living wage employers
Investing in our district
• Regeneration: Use council powers to unblock hard to develop areas, especially brownfield sites and long-term empty properties, for local jobs and homes, while preserving and enhancing biodiversity
• Create a One Canal strategy for the regeneration and preservation of the canal from Brimscombe Port to Sharpness Docks, capturing all benefits including: health and wellbeing; economic growth; industrial heritage; and land and water biodiversity
• Support sustainable and community transport and engage with county and regional partnerships to improve transport infrastructure, especially public transport, bus and rail, walking and cycling
• Support the expansion and improvement of the district’s railway stations including bids for new facilities
• Work to get the infrastructure investment that is needed for local communities and with a minimum of delay, fairly across the district, like schools, GP surgeries and better public transport.