District Could Become "Dormitory District", warns Labour group.

PUBLISHED: 15:49 23 June 2011

The South East Cambs Labour Party said that complacency among councillors in recent years has seen the number of unemployed in the district begin to rise, adding that there was an increasing lack of local jobs available.

EAST Cambridgeshire is in danger of becoming a “dormitory district” unless more is done to boost jobs in the area, a political party has warned.

The South East Cambs Labour Party said that complacency among councillors in recent years has seen the number of unemployed in the district begin to rise, adding that there was an increasing lack of local jobs available.

The warning comes as the latest unemployment figures published this week revealed that while the number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance continued to tumble, the percentage of people out of work in the district increased compared to this time last year.

In East Cambridgeshire there were 1060 people claiming Jobseekers Allowance at the end of May, down by 21 from April and 40 from this time last year.

According to the figures released on Wednesday however, the number of people currently unemployed hit 4.9 per cent of the district’s population, up from 4.7 per cent in June 2010.

Clive Jeffries, spokesman for the South East Cambs Labour Party, said: “We have two main areas of concern – the ability of the national economy to generate jobs long term and the specific issues affecting Ely and East Cambridgeshire.

“Our view is that there is a growing problem of lack of local jobs. East Cambs is in danger of becoming a ‘dormitory district’ – somewhere people live but then travel, often by car, to work further afield: commuting rates for Ely in particular, are already high and growing. One of the problems of this imbalance is the pressure on public transport and growing road traffic.

“Because of the area’s low unemployment over recent years, councillors have tended to be complacent, giving business development too low a priority. They need to see these figures as a warning sign and think again about how to create the right conditions for jobs.

“Simply carrying on house building without jobs is not an option. Before proceeding with major new schemes like the North Ely development they need to do a jobs audit on their plans and policies.”

The figures came amid better news for the country as a whole as the Office for National Statistics revealed that the total number of unemployed people fell by 88,000 over the quarter to reach 2.43 million.

The drop is the largest quarterly fall in unemployment since the three months to August 2000.

Cllr Peter Moakes, leader at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Throughout one of the most difficult recessions this country has ever seen, East Cambridgeshire has managed to weather the storm well with consistently high employment levels and 90 per cent of start up businesses in the district making it through their first year. Overall since 2000, jobs growth in East Cambridgeshire has actually exceeded the national average as well as being the highest of all the neighbouring Cambridgeshire authorities.

“Far from being complacent, we know how it is vital to work hard to ensure our employment figures do not fall. This is why we are developing a jobs growth strategy for the district. This coupled with our existing planning consents for large scale developments at Lancaster Way and Elean Business Park and our investment website - www.360ec.co.uk shows that we are focused on creating the conditions for growth.”

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