Jobs and encouraging growth in the local economy, whether it be the port, the airport, China Gateway or even Thanet Earth, they remain at the top of a list of local priorities.
Two million people living in this country of ours have never held a job while three million more have been out of work since before Labour came to power. In what the Conservatives describe as "The Steady growth in welfare ghettos", six million people now claim job seekers allowance or sickness benefit.
Government's failure to reform the welfare state during the good times has resulted in huge economic and social costs and the consequences can be seen around us, indeed, only this month, with the ASBOs handed down to the gang of feckless, violent thugs who terrorised the Newington estate.
Everyone living here in Thanet wants to see a virtuous circle, a healthy local economy that enjoys a productive balance with our environment but to encourage the former, new business has to be attracted to the island and new jobs created. I'm not entirely sure that both objectives can be obtained without compromise a recognition that the world has changed and that our place in it has to be shaped to accommodate the best opportunities possible for local people.
We share the same concern for the future and recognise our well-documented local problems and the challenges of our geography but when I see so much criticism on the local ‘Blogs’ levelled at efforts to encourage new business and stimulate opportunity I do wonder what alternatives are on offer, beyond our fast growing welfare dependency, at a time when Government, with the largest public finance deficit in modern history, can no longer match even the minimum funding we now require to stand still in the face of the recession?
Thanet is one small economically-pressed community, one among many other similar struggling seaside stories across the United Kingdom. In reality and of late, there has been a great deal of good news and progress which offers us advantages over our neighbours and are measurable success stories in their own right. The seemingly more controversial decisions, such as The Turner Contemporary, China Gateway and the airport are shaping tomorrow's opportunities and while such plans and ambitions should be subject to proper debate and public scrutiny I believe it’s quite wrong to challenge the strategy when no truly constructive alternative model for change is offered in return.
“Joined-up” is an over-worked expression but it describes the thinking that has to surround our future here in Thanet. The island, along with its pockets of deprivation, tourism attractions and business opportunities has to be seen as a complex challenge requiring flexible solutions on a shoe-string budget. I’m optimistic that we are going in the right direction but understand why people are worried by the prospect of change.
Seaside economies are facing their own Darwinian struggle with the forces of natural selection but fortune, I’m told, favours the bold and this is the direction I believe we should be exploring for the benefit of all.
Plenty to think about and even comment on here but what interests me most whether readers would have a strategy for the future of Thanet that is in any way different to the one which already exists.