Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Little Assistance

Thanet has been put on the Assisted Area Status map for the next seven years, which will help Thanet to access different types of financial support.  

Under new Regional Aid guidelines produced by the EU, just 23.9% of the UK’s population will be covered by Assisted Area Status from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2013. Currently, just over 30% of the UK population is covered by this status, which makes firms in these areas eligible for certain forms of large scale investment.

The only other area in the south east that to be awarded this status is the Sandwich ward of Dover. The chosen areas are those identified by the government as having higher levels of deprivation, but also those which offer development opportunities for large companies, who can benefit from the status.

Leader of Thanet Council, Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel, said: “This is excellent news for the area, particularly as the government has recognised Thanet as an area of opportunity for large companies. This round of Assisted Area Status has been more competitive than ever before, because of the expansion of the EU, which has seen a redistribution of aid to newer and poorer Member States and has also seen other parts of the UK lose out. Despite this, Thanet has been able to maintain this support – something that the Council has lobbied hard to ensure happens. This has been a real team effort between the Council, our officers and both of the area’s MP’s, all of whom have worked together to get the right result for the area.”

He added: “Over the last few years, Assisted Area Status has opened up funding opportunities for many businesses in Thanet and has also helped to attract inward investment into the area. With the announcement that the District is to retain this support for the next seven years, we look forward to seeing business growth and investment continue in Thanet, which can only bring positive benefits for our area’s economy and our residents.”

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well done to the council and MPs for helping secure this.

Maverick said...

It's good that we have the funding, but I do question how wisely it will be spent. What a shame we should need handouts in the first place, and have to admit that we can't manage our own affairs. Drive out of East Kent and you're in a different world. Why do we always end up with so many problems?

Cllr David Green said...

To call it “excellent news” is a strange way for Ezekiel to describe the news that alone in the South East, Thanet still requires assisted area status whilst other areas such as Dover, Hastings, and Brighton have moved out this category. It reflects a marked lack of ambition for the economic development of the area as shown by recent staff cuts at the Council
There is no money directly coming to Thanet through this designation.
What it does mean is that we continue to be an area where one can apply for regional selective assistance if one is creating jobs (this works out as a subsidy of 20% of capital costs or £12k per job created in theory but its usually about £6-7000per job in practice).
It is also likely to be important if we are to get any Objective II transition money – as unless we are an assisted area we’d have little chance.
The decision to include all the Thanet Wards may be a surprise, but it reflects the recognition that employment opportunities are relevant over a wider area than ward boundaries.

Chris Wells said...

I find it constantly interesting that when any news such as this is announced, which can only be good for investment in the area, David and colleagues rush in to denounce it as a mark of failure. Just a couple of weeks ago, when I challenged Davids colleague Cllr Clive Hart about taking negative inferences from any news about Turner, he responded by sending a letter round all councillors stating the statistics of deprivation for Margate and West Cliftonville (which of course only form part of his KCC division). Nobody plans for this staus, but retaining it may help to regenerate jobs and economic activity. Gordon Browns changed to residential stamp duty at a level beneath the average first time buy in this area, and his withdrawal of tax relief on investing in poor areas probably did far more damage in an afternoon to economic recovery than any staffing changes in the council will. So, perhaps you can make it clear for us all, David and Clive, are we a poor area in need of help (Hart version) or a recovering area that should be unconfortable with help (Green version). Answers, on a postcard please, to Thanet Life comments section...perhaps, gentlemen, you could ask Lord Levy for advice - oh, sorry, believe he's a little preoccupied right now.....

James Maskell said...

It looks like good news to me. Its sad that Dave has to be so negative about it. Hes more negative than Cllr Nicholson! Is this a sign that the balance of Labour power is shifting to Eastcliff ward?

Chris, dont worry about the letters. Some of us Cliftonville residents got one through our doors in the past month, which proved very useful. Saved me a journey to Tesco's for loo roll....cheers Labour!

Cllr David Green said...

What a load of tosh from Wells and Maskell. Of course we will be pleased if assisted status brings good jobs to the area. However, as Chris should know more than most, that will take concerted effort in an area, Economic Development, that is not a Tory priority at the moment. In fact it doesnt appear in their plans at all.
Nice try James, but Cllr Nicholson is our Leader, has my full support, and will be Leader of the Council come next May.

Chris Wells said...

So, David which version is it? Yours or Clives? If its such tosh it must be easy to answer?

Cllr David Green said...

Why cant it be both Chris? We are a poor area that requires assistance on any of a dozen criteria. We can aspire to rise above the level where assistance is not needed as have the other areas I mentioned. We wont do that without enaging with likely inward investors in terms that they understand. Normally one would expect the County to carry out that function. Unfortunately Kent are so focused on West Kent that the burden falls upon the District.

Chris Wells said...

What a ;ot of tosh from David Green. The environment and regeneration team spend virtually all their energy and effort in east kent. Once again, point scoring before thinking about the image presented to the outside world.

James Maskell said...

Why is it tosh that this is good news? Do you think giving support to Councils is bad news?

Its sad that workers for the Council have to be criticised at almost every turn by Labour. They cannot respond and they just get on with their job instead.

Its a shame you dont want to be Leader of the Labour Group. Cllr Nicholson has never appeared (to my eyes) to be the true voice of the Labour Group. Hes missing the extra something special that sets out the true leader from everyone else. Dont put yourself down. Youve got potential...