David Batchelor

David Batchelor: How I’d tackle Adur’s “pay gap”

I was shocked when I learnt that Adur District residents suffer a £3,800 “pay gap” compared with their neighbours. It works like this. The average gross weekly pay for full-time employees in Adur is £595.80, according to the Office for National Statistics. But in Worthing it’s £635.60, in Horsham District it’s £653.40, and in Brighton and Hove it’s £670.40.

Adur shares a common boundary with those three councils. They’re our neighbours – and an average Adur resident is as much as £3,879 a year worse off than they are. I wanted to know how this has happened – and what can be done about it. The first thing I found is that it hasn’t happened over night. The pay gap with our neighbours has been growing for years. But in recent years, the pay gap has grown because our Council has wasted the opportunity to attract the high growth businesses we all need to thrive. Just look at all the development we’ve seen in the last few years. Virtually none of it promotes space for local craftsmen, tech or the creative industries. Just more and more flats, because that is what the Conservative government told local councillors to do. And the councillors went ahead without properly testing whether that would deliver more prosperity for the district in the long run. It hasn’t helped that we’ve had a member of parliament who evidently hadn’t thought through the huge damage that would be caused by the Brexit he spent years howling for.

As a result, small businesses are struggling to find enough people to keep open since we banned our closest neighbours from seasonal work here. Our farmers and fishermen can’t sell their brilliant produce in Europe because additional red tape means everything will rot before it even gets over the Channel. At the same time, the Conservative government wants to open the flood gates for inferior products coming in from the other side of the world. It’s mad! I want Adur Council to undertake a complete review of the Local Plan. The Plan they came up with in 2017 has failed our community. As your MP, I would encourage a welcoming rather than hostile environment for business, seek to rebuild European trading links, and work for reforms that provide a fairer deal all round

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