As well as being a local Councillor for the St Michael’s Ward of the City, I am also privileged to be the Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration in the city. This means I am responsible for the policy area of redevelopment in the city centre, investment and job creation across the city and helping and supporting business across Coventry. It is exciting and challenging.
Coventry has many qualities and success stories. We are resilient and can bounce back from adversity. We are seeing Jaguar Land Rover expand and invest just a few years after it closed its Browns Lane Plant. London Taxi Company is now expanding with a new plant at Ansty just a couple of years after going into administration. Both companies have one thing in common: they now have owners who have invested and are seeing the rewards of this policy.
It doesn’t end there either. I am in regular contact with business from both this country and overseas looking to invest and grow in Coventry. We need more jobs with good pay and conditions for our young people who are struggling to get a full time job and don’t have the opportunities their parents had when Coventry was a boom town in the 1960’s and 70’s. I am confident I will announce new investments very soon!
That being said, we also have challenges. Our city centre needs to improve, a statement I am sure everyone will agree with. I hear and read a lot about the university taking over the city centre. It is true that Coventry University has grown massively over the last few years. So has Warwick University. One point which is always lost in this debate is that Coventry University employs about 4,000 people, 3,000 of whom work directly in Coventry itself. The figure for Warwick University is comparable too. That doesn’t include the thousands of students living, shopping and spending money in and around the city. It generates investment and wealth where without it, they would be nothing else.
However, it is true, we need a mix in the city centre, something I know both universities agree with having met with them. That’s why I am encouraging new schemes and developments in our city centre which will compliment and use current and often iconic buildings which we must utilise for multiple use whilst preserving the best of the post war architecture we have in our city. Again, watch for exciting announcements soon!
We must never rest in our pursuit of new opportunities for our citizens. In particular, I focus on jobs for our younger people who deserve the chance to get on the housing ladder and become independent. That way, we will see our city really begin to prosper.