Friday, 22 March 2013

Our Local Economy - My Sussex local Article for April

Local produce grown in Horticultural Hubs
in West Sussex.
One of the Districts greatest priorities is to break the cycle of a low wage economy Arun as a district for too long has been short of local jobs, a lot of people who live in the District either work outside it or are retired and we have one of the lowest job density figures for the UK.

But we have infrastructure deficit which makes it very hard to attract companies to relocate here and although we have many successful SME’s (Small and Medium enterprises), larger companies prefer the Gatwick area despite the cost advantages of being further south.  

 The net result of this is that many employees settle here because of the lower housing costs and quality of life and then commute to Gatwick or further afield to work. Unstoppable demand for more housing is being driven by factors outside our district and housing inflation is driven by external forces. Our local economy is dominated by short term seasonal work which locks the district into a cyclical self prophecy of a low wage economy.

We are always behind the curve in creating those all important jobs.  We need to become a centre of excellence in 21st century industries; I went recently to an interesting presentation by the Sussex Growers Association.  They are at the cutting edge of green house horticulture growing fruits, vegetables and flowers and increasing yields by the use of technology and investing in R & D (research and development).

One of their concepts which are already reality in the Netherlands is the Horticultural hubs which combine small number of houses with greenhouses and green energy units.   Agricultural waste is used to generate electricity, the heat produced is used to heat the housing and the carbon produced is used by the plants and converted to oxygen and the resulting crops can be sold locally to cut food miles. If we can link these industries to local education, then we our own green version of Silicon Valley, with the world having to produce more food, then this is a way forward with yields being increased experientially through R & D. 
It is the challenge for Arun District Council to try and make these ideas a reality and hopefully we can create the conditions to make this happen.  Until next month.

  www.pauldendle.org   email: Pauldendle@aol.com

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