Letter to County Press by Bob Burton, Isle of Wight Trades Union Council (published)
Urgency needed for area status
WE HOPE IW councillors will not rest on their laurels about assisted area status for the island, after agreeing to our request to seek European funding.
That arose several weeks ago from the motion to the council, which emanated from us, the IW Trade Union Council and Cllr Geoff Lumley.
We note the IW College is in receipt of European funding for various training schemes.
We do want more positive action to obtain funds.
The council has lost out seeking funds from the Coastal Communities Fund for 2012. We sincerely hope it shows more urgency in the next bidding round.
There does need to be more emphasis and drive in endeavouring to obtain assisted area status for future years.
We suggest that, should it be necessary to break away from Hampshire, with whom we are grouped for funding purposes, so be it. Hampshire is much more affluent than the Island.
By all accounts, the connection with Hampshire does seem to be holding us back for rightful funding from European sources.
Bids were apparently made for a sustainable transport fund, Solent ocean energy centre, funding for training young people and enhancing tourism stock.
We also take issue on the latter bid. It becomes inappropriate public money should be used by hoteliers and others to upgrade their personal stock and assets, whether a match is funded or not.
What the Island does need is more investment, either from Europe or the regional growth fund to promote manufacturing industry.
Only that will lift the Island out of a low-wage economy and give more sustainable employment.
We are somewhat baffled by the figures showing the number of unemployed. The figures do not take into account that many new jobs are part-time.
There are also many seeking work who are not in receipt of benefits and therefore are not included in any statistics.
What we are sure about are the appalling 6,328 people who are on the housing register seeking homes. That figure is taken from the Isle of Wight Council’s website in June.
More new social housing projects would create jobs and help to improve the IW economy and give many some hope for the future.
It is interesting to note the recently established new industry group, Election Charter for the Island, mentioned on Andrew Turner’s website, was developed from and idea emanating from the Isle of Wight Trades Union Council at a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce in February 2011.
Should we fail to obtain European funds, the problems the Island faces will only worsen.