Local people must benefit from regeneration jobs

Mayor Sir Robin Wales last week warned that the coalition government is jeopardising London’s growth.

Sir Robin, Mayor of Newham – where two thirds of next year’s Games will take place – gave evidence to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee last Wednesday afternoon.

He said Newham welcomes the huge regeneration projects - some of the largest in Europe - that have been secured for the borough. However, they will be meaningless if local residents do not benefit from jobs.

“London’s Olympic bid book said the most enduring legacy of the Games must be the regeneration of the entire community for the direct benefit of everyone who lives there. For centuries London’s East End has been one of the poorest areas in Europe. The Games have provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the lives of residents for generations to come. The Chancellor should urgently review whether he has the right policy to ensure that legacy can be delivered.

He said: “It is not just investing in the place - but in people. That is why Newham is investing �5m this year into Workplace, our jobs brokerage scheme which will get 5000 jobless residents into work this year alone. However, savage coalition cuts are making this much more difficult.” *

Newham is working closely with key partners such as Westfield, who will open Europe’s biggest shopping centre next to the Olympic Stadium in fewer than 100 days.

Sir Robin said that the Enterprise Zone in Newham’s Royal Docks - one of the Chancellor’s key London policy initiatives to stimulate the economic recovery - will not work unless it there are significantly more generous offers to businesses.

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“Jobs are essential for our residents. An Enterprise Zone is exactly what this area needs, but the proposal as it currently stands simply will not incentivise investment in London.

“Enterprise Zones in the 1980s such as Canary Wharf had capital allowances to incentivise developers and investment in infrastructure. There were also much more generous business rate discounts than are being offered this time round. Nobody wants the Enterprise Zone to be a failure. We urge the Government to support us to deliver on the huge growth potential of the area.

“To transform the East End we need a concerted and long-term effort with national, London and local government working together. Too often, we are being forced to step in as a local authority to make sure the momentum is maintained and economic regeneration takes place which benefits our residents.

“The Government’s commitment to localism needs to extend to its approach to regeneration. We welcome the Enterprise Zone as a potentially major development for the Royal Docks. But we need to ensure it does the job and attracts new investment from the UK and beyond.

* Newham is among the 36 local authorities taking the maximum cut of 8.9 per cent.