Many planners, like French politicians, seem to think that the economy is like some sort of tap which you can adjust to get the number of jobs you want out of it. It must be very frustrating for them that while – to some extent at least – they can shape the built environment, the economy is a much more slippery monster. Attempts to force companies to employ the numbers and sorts of people that politicians would like, and under conditions that workers would prefer, often results in scaring them off. And its the most vulnerable – the young and the unskilled – who suffer the most.
How refreshing, therefore, to hear the (Labour) mayor of one of the most deprived boroughs of England, shadowed by the Eldorado of Canary Wharf, take such an astute attitude to attracting business and jobs.
Speaking as he launched an investment prospectus for Newham at an NLA conference at ExCel, Sir Robin Wales had this to say:
“Newham is absolutely supportive of business and development. What we want is the jobs that come with it… and relationships that build up and get out people access to those jobs, either unskilled jobs that people can walk into straight away, or skilled jobs that we can then get our people skilled up and into them. ”
“Aspiration is the only way that we are going to crack the issue of poverty. German’s don’t turn their noses up at vocational skills. It’s just us that turn their nose up at it”