Last Wednesday’s Regeneration and Community Safety Overview and Scrutiny Committee was the first in the ‘new’ format in which the focus moves from each meeting to a different part of the portfolio. This time it was the turn of regeneration and, not surprisingly, the recession took up a large part of the meeting.
It is difficult to get the tone right when talking about the recession. While I don’t want to make the mistake same mistake as Gordon Brown of pretending that Britain would never have bad times I also don’t want to make the situation in Wandsworth seem worse than it is.
The simple fact is that Wandsworth is not immune and will be hurt by the recession, and while there’s good reason to believe we won’t be as hard-hit as other other areas, we need to take what measures we can to help residents and businesses.
At the meeting some specific measures were approved by the committee.
Employment Support for Young Black Men
Unemployment amongst you black men is disproportionately high, and we have appointed Talent to work with clients to overcome the most common difficulties they face in getting jobs. You can read more in the council’s press release or the report considered by the committee.
‘Best Buy’ Wandsworth
The council constantly promotes Wandsworth to businesses and potential investors – as a borough and a specific areas. I have great pride in seeing the sterling work undertaken by the Town Centre managers of Balham, Clapham Junction, Putney, Tooting and Wandsworth in developing and promoting their areas. The programme of promotion will continue to highlight the town centres as part of the ‘Best Buy’ but will also start promoting other areas in Wandsworth.
The Nine Elms area represents the largest potential development area in inner London and it got a real boost with the announcement that the American Embassy will be moving there. The council will continue to promote the area to create more jobs and homes.
Roehampton suffers the borough’s highest rate of unemployment and is currently the focus of a major regeneration scheme. This is reliant on attracting a private sector partner, which will be hard in the current climate.
The Wandle Valley
The Wandle Valley covers several boroughs, and there is a scheme to create a Wandle Valley Regional Park and this will provide an opportunity to promote the business and investment opportunities along the river.
The scheme will have several elements (you can read more in the report) but the main purpose will be to sell Wandsworth as a destination for business and leisure. However hard the recession is, and however long it lasts, when people start thinking about investment again, we want Wandsworth to be top of their list.