Archive for the 'development' Category



A Rare Blow Struck Against the Supermarkets

I was delighted to read a week or so ago that North Norfolk District Council (and a local farmer called Clive Hay-Smith), had combined forces to prevent Tesco moving into the centre of the market town of Sheringham.

The issue of multinationals and their impact on local economies is one we cannot afford to ignore. Here in Brighton & Hove we are quite rightly nationally renowned for our sheer number and variety of small independent retailers, and if even half of these disappeared our economy would be in real trouble. Therefore, I think it is vitally important that local politicians stand up and make a statement on this issue wherever possible.

I would be the first to recognise the benefits that the Tesco and Sainsburys of this world have brought to consumers over the years in terms of improved choice and value for money. However, I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the growing influence that they are exerting in Brighton & Hove and, indeed, across the country as a whole. For example, we are seeing an increasing number of smaller ‘Express’ style stores popping up across the City which invariably apply for late licenses to sell alcohol. Well, in common with many towns and cities across the country we have a real problem with alcohol-related health problems and anti-social behaviour and in my opinion, the last thing we should be doing is making it easier for people to get hold of cheap (and strong) drink.

And just yesterday, we saw that Sainsbury’s tried to get away with installing a new shop frontage on their Western Road store before getting planning permission from the Council. We have told them to go away and think again but this is by no means the first time that this sort of thing has happened.

I have been involved in local politics for many years now and I am increasingly getting a real sense of power and control draining away from local communities, of someone else pulling the strings – whether that is central Government, the EU, regional quangos or large multinational companies.

As a Conservative, I believe very strongly in the localist principle that decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the people affected by them. North Norfolk District Council has struck a rare blow for local democracy, for the powerless against the powerful. I hope that it is the first of many more to come.

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Support for Britain’s Seaside Resorts

 

Last week the Shadow Minister for Universities and Skills – David Willetts MP –  visited Brighton & Hove to launch the party’s new coastal towns action plan. This is a very useful document as it underlines some of the unique challenges that places like Brighton & Hove have faced over the years due to their unique location.

 Some of the policies contained in the action plan include:

 

  • Giving local councils and the police new powers to restrict the large number of late licenses and tackle alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour.
  • Cancelling Labour’s council tax revaluation which intends to charge residents higher council tax for having sea views.
  • Creating a ‘Community Right to Buy’ to allow local groups to take over and save threatened community assets and buildings.
  • Allowing privately owned, listed seaside heritage attractions, such as piers, to apply for Lottery funding.

 

There is also a very strong focus on supporting local businesses and jobs, something which we as a council have prioritised during the recession. For example, we have recently supported Domestic & General to secure 200 new jobs for people who were made redundant when the Lloyds TSB call centre announced it would close. We hope to do more of this sort of thing in the future.

 

Under a future Conservative Government there would be new tax breaks for local firms – including local business rate discounts, lower corporation tax on small firms, a new Business Increase Bonus to reward councils that attract new firms into their areas and waiving National Insurance on new firms which create jobs.

Brighton & Hove has weathered the recession relatively well but we must build on this as we emerge from the downturn. I believe that these new policies will allow us to do just that.

Brighton & Hove: open for business

I was delighted with the decision of the Council’s planning committee last night to give the go-ahead for American Express’ £140 million extension to their Eastern Road site.

This is fantastic news for the local economy at a time when we are still in the middle of a deep recession. 2,000 jobs have been safeguarded by this move and the redevelopment of the site itself is likely to create more than 1,000 construction and related jobs early next year.

This is also a satisfying riposte to those who have branded us ‘anti-development’ as an Administration. Remember that this was only made possible by us agreeing to sell the company the freehold of the existing Amex House building. There is clearly still much more to be done but, coupled with ongoing work at Falmer on the Community Stadium and the new Academy school, this shows that Brighton & Hove is still very much ‘open for business’.


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