At last week’s Executive meeting, Kingston Council’s Lead Member for Economic Development updated the chamber of the local initiatives which the local authority is running to help residents and local businesses during the economic downturn.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Simon James said: “As a borough we suffer ‘leafy Kingston syndrome’. The economic pressures on the Council and the difficulties faced by our residents and local businesses are often ignored.
“But Kingston is suffering in this recession like everywhere else. The effects are being felt slightly differently locally as we have particularly high levels of managerial unemployment. It’s important we have a bespoke local response in order to keep our town centres vibrant and local workers in their jobs. We have also been providing active support for residents who are unemployed or at risk of redundancy.”
Cllr James’ report to Executive listing the ways which the Council is helping fighting the recession in Kingston, included:
• The Council pays all invoices for within 10 working days to help the flow of cash into small and medium-sized businesses;
• Works with Job Centre Plus to create apprenticeship schemes, work trials and work experiences placements in the Council and wider community;
• Runs employment support services, such as ‘Kingston Executive Futures’ which is tailored to the needs of managers and professionals who are out of work;
• Jobseeker boot camps which are helping hundreds of graduates prepare for employment;
• Credit Crunch Seminars providing a helpful forum and advice sessions for struggling local firms;
• Helps provide the ‘GoGreen Plus’ business support package which gets local companies to reduce their costs whilst also reducing their impact on the environment;
• Supports Kingston Town Centre through Kingston First and the expanded ‘Business Improvement District’;
• Promotes improvement schemes in Tolworth and Surbiton district centres;
• Provides helpful information to both businesses and residents affected by the economic downturn on the Council’s website;
• Publishes a local business directory;
• Uses money from the Future Jobs Fund to create new jobs which benefit the local community for long-term young unemployed people
Cllr James added: “Our locally-run recession busting schemes seem to be working well. At 3.4% unemployment in the borough is well below the national and even London average. And despite the retail sector being particularly badly hit in the credit crunch, the number of people visiting Kingston Town Centre actually increased by an impressive 3.9% this year.
“Despite these encouraging signs, Kingston’s Liberal Democrat-run Council will not be complacent in supporting residents through this difficult time or encouraging the return of our strong local economy.”