Axminster Conservative Councillor Ian Hall has challenged the area’s two Conservative MPs to press for more credible support from Westminster after the town suffered another in a series of economic setbacks.
The Conservative district councillor, who was re-elected to represent the town in May, despite his party losing control of East Devon after 45 years, says he feels the Tory administration in Westminster has abandoned the town.
This follows news that the Government has rebuffed Axminster’s application for help from a Future High Streets Fund grant at the second stage.
The former Conservative administration at EDDC applied to Westminster in March for Axminster to receive a share of the £675 million set aside as part of Government’s Our Plan for the High Street.
It became clear that Axminster had lost out when the shortlist of successful bids for up to £150,000 was announced last week, with the nearest places to go forward being Taunton and Yeovil.
Ian Hall said: “Axminster seems to be the forgotten town of East Devon when it comes to any kind of support from Central Government. There’s been a catalogue of decisions going against us, which have left those of us who are working hard to revitalise the town during challenging economic times feeling like nobody in power cares about us.
“I’ve now contacted our two local MPs – Neil Parish and Hugo Swire – challenging them to press colleagues in Government to recognise that Axminster will be in dire straits if it doesn’t see some positive action”.
In March, Ian Hall described a Whitehall decision to backtrack on an earlier promise of a £10 million grant for the proposed Axminster Relief Road as a ‘betrayal’ because changing the grant to a loan rendered the entire Axminster Masterplan unviable.
Since then, there’s been more gloom for Axminster, with Goulds announcing an autumn closure of the town’s Trinity House department store and McColls newsagent in Victoria Place expected to cease trading.
An angry Ian Hall said: “Enough is enough. Axminster is fighting for its life at the moment. There are people in this town – and I’m one of them – working incredibly hard to keep ourselves afloat against really tough odds. But all we’re getting from this Government [HIS GOVERNMENT!!!] is one kick in the teeth after another.
“There’s only so much people here on the ground can do. I’m fighting Axminster’s corner at district and county level. But our local efforts can only make a difference if we get support from central funds. No one at Westminster seems to understand the desperate position we are in – let alone care about it. If you take away people’s hope, why shouldn’t they just give up?
“I’m hoping the two men who local people elected to protect our interests [!] will start rattling some cages in Westminster. We will soon have a new Prime Minister and a fresh administration in Whitehall. I’m challenging our MPs to get Axminster on their radar and to secure some tangible recognition of our town’s fantastic record of self-help.
“Meanwhile, we also have a new administration running East Devon. I also challenge them to do their bit, as a matter of urgency, to help our fantastic town to thrive and prosper”.
Owl says: oh dear, failing enterprise zones (we have one centred on Cranbrook/Science Park – oh and Sky Park – what’s happening there?), failing Local Enterprise Partnerships and failing Clinical Commissioning Groups.
Wonder what is succeeding? Education – no. NHS – no. Social Care – no. Transport – no. High streets – no. Environment – no. Growth – no. Housing – no. Utilities – no. Democracy – definitely not. Brexit? Better not go there …!
So is there ANYTHING succeeding? Answers on a postage stamp …
“A multimillion-pound government policy to boost job creation has failed to deliver, research has revealed.
In 2011, the government announced “enterprise zones” in England to try to improve economic growth, forecasting 54,000 new jobs between 2012 and 2015.
But BBC-commissioned research found by 2017 only 17,307 jobs had been created in 24 zones around England – and in two areas the number of jobs had fallen.
The government said it had created 38,000 jobs since 2012.
Enterprise zones offered cheaper business rates, superfast broadband and lower levels of planning control.
The research, which was conducted by think tank charity Centre for Cities using data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed the number of jobs created fell short by nearly three-quarters of the amount predicted in the government’s initial announcement in 2011. …”
Many readers will be too young to remember Rast Devon’s plans to develop an ‘inter-modal transport hub’ on the outskirts of Exeter, about which many promised were made and broken. There was even a cursory planning application in 2010:
Eventually all or part of the site (Owl is none too sure) was bought up by Sainsbury’s who said they would build, well, something. Another promise broken.
Eventually, part of the site was bought by Lidl, who built a massive warehouse.
Now, it seems Amazon is going to build a second massive warehouse, next to the Lidl one:
Many jobs (200 in the article) are promised to the lucky (or unlucky) residents of Cranbrook – which way you look at it depends on what you research about both Amazon’s working conditions and future plans:
The desire of most of these warehousing companies – including Amazon – is NOT to treat their workers like robots (though it is alleged that some of them do) but to REPLACE them by robots.
Progress it’s called.
Shelve that dream of running an internet-based company in many parts of rural East Devon.
“The company awarded the publicly-subsidised contract to deliver superfast broadband to thousands of rural homes in Devon and Somerset has been given a deadline to come up with a rescue plan for the programme.
Last September, Gigaclear admitted the project was facing significant delays and was two years behind schedule.
Connecting Devon and Somerset, the organisation in charge of the whole project, stopped paying Gigaclear nine months ago.
It has told the firm it must come up with acceptable plans by the end of July to fulfill the contract.”
“If you currently experience broadband speeds of less than 2 Megabits per second (Mbps), the Better Broadband Voucher Scheme may be able to help you access a basic broadband service that will offer download speeds of at least 10 Mbps.
The Better Broadband Voucher Scheme, developed by the UK government, provides a voucher worth up to £350 for basic broadband installation to homes and businesses that will not benefit from superfast broadband within the next twelve months. …”
To see if you qualify, see here:
“Why are we so fixated on economic growth?
Since the mid-20th century, economic growth has taken on a dominant position in the way practically every country arranges its affairs and priorities.
Growth has become shorthand for increasing living standards. It often means more people in work and more companies in business. Its opposite, recession, normally means bankruptcies and redundancies.
And so growth has become a holy grail for governments seeking re-election.
But some people have benefited more from growth than others, despite global gross domestic product (GDP) growing by more than 5,000% since the 1960s. Inequality has boomed in advanced economies since the 1970s, while the mounting risk of catastrophic global warming raises serious questions about the links between growth and carbon emissions.
Yet our economies have become structurally dependent on growth. Finance ministries and central banks pursue economic expansion as the primary goal, with rising GDP providing higher taxes.
Growth as a metaphor for prosperity has become deeply embedded through language. We like to see our children grow, or our gardens. Growth as a fundamentally human movement is life and progress. But there is another end of the metaphor: that growth can be cancerous. …”