Herefordshire Council’s leader Councillor Tony Johnson is forgetting the rest of the county.
Councillor Johnson’s claim that Herefordshire will only survive by building roads and houses is narrow-minded and untrue. The keys to economic development are job creation and a higher-skilled workforce.
By helping to change the county’s ageing demographic, and by attracting employers in the high-tech sectors it will focus on, the new university will certainly be central to future prosperity. But the flagship Rotherwas Enterprise Zone, with its promise of thousands of new jobs, has thus far secured only one company (of a disappointing nine) from out of county, and has ‘created’ a mere 254 jobs. That’s a poor return on the tens of millions already invested, at taxpayers’ expense. Perhaps an eastern river crossing (at a fraction of the cost of a western one) as supported by the City Council and the local MP, but rejected by Cllr Johnson, would help? For new housing to be occupied by the economically active – and not just by the retired – the quality jobs that will also attract our young people to stay in, and return to, Herefordshire must be there for them.
Cllr Johnson also forgets the rest of the county. Ledbury and Ross are already well connected to population centres and markets, and over 80% of county businesses, many in rural areas, employ less than ten people. These vital SMEs, and our future businesses, need an ultra-fast broadband ‘super highway’ more than new roads.
Cllr Anthony Powers (group leader, It’s Our County)