The Ryedale Economic Action Plan should focus on Small and Medium Sized enterprises - Mercury June 2012


Ryedale District Council has produced a draft Economic Action Plan for consultation. This focuses on promoting high technology engineering, including links to the off-shore wind industry and the York Potash project. Unfortunately, it also endorses unpopular enhancement proposals for Malton town centre such as the pedestrianisation of Market Place.


In my view, a plan of this kind should concentrate on building on Ryedale’s strengths, and avoid grand strategies and grandiose schemes which are unlikely to be achieved in these difficult times.


Ryedale’s main strength is the number of small and medium sized enterprises and the employment they offer. Ryedale may be a low–wage area, but it is also an area where crime is low and employment is high. If a big business gets into trouble, thousands of jobs can be lost: if a few small or medium firms go bankrupt, the job losses can be counted in tens or hundreds – not in thousands.


It may well be possible to attract some high technology engineering to Ryedale, but this should not be the priority. The Council’s main priority should be to demonstrate that we value our existing businesses and will do our utmost to support and promote them. This means that the Council should have a plan to ensure that the right number of units or plots is available for existing businesses, if they want to expand or downsize. Council grants for businesses should be aimed at employment promotion. In the last Council, grants were awarded for innovation. Innovation does not necessarily increase employment. The main criterion of all grants made available to business by Council should be the number of new jobs the money would help to create or the number of existing jobs the grant might save.


The Council should not discriminate against employers who provide low paid work. Young people who start with low pay can nevertheless learn a trade which could lead to themselves setting up on their own or to a career. Further there are often spin-off benefits for other businesses which are better paid.


In this respect the racing industry is important. Anything to do with horses is labour intensive and should be encouraged. Young people join the racing industry often for very little pay, but racing gives many an opportunity for a very rewarding career. Horses need blacksmiths, vets and a whole range of other services – some of them very highly paid. Ryedale is the Newmarket of the North. The Council should take full advantage of this for promotional purposes and show its support for the racing industry.


There is little point in promoting an economic action plan, if the Council is known for its lack of support in real terms. By taking such drastic action as the sale of Wentworth Street Car Park, the Council has given some very negative messages. Businesses include retailers. If Ryedale wants to tell the world that Ryedale is open for business, Ryedale must show its support for our independent shops, as well as the enterprises which produce things. They all provide employment.



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