What’s the secret to Weston’s rising levels of employment?

I get a regular monthly MP update on unemployment in Weston and, once I’ve waded through all the seasonally-adjusted this and nationally-ranked that, it’s generally brought good news for the last couple of years. We’ve been creating new jobs faster than most other parts of the southwest for a while now, and local unemployment is much lower than the national average.

So what’s our secret? What are Weston, Worle and the villages doing that’s working so much better than elsewhere? Is it something in the water? Or are local businessfolk more dynamic and entrepreneurial than other parts of the UK?

Well, maybe. But the biggest difference has been the extra public and private investment that’s been piling in to our area. Jobs generally follow money and, starting with Weston’s seafront rebuild a few years ago, we’ve had a lot more than other places.

There’s been private cash to redevelop Dolphin Square, complementing taxpayer money for revamped public spaces like Pier Square, Town Square and the Italian Gardens, or heavy-duty infrastructure improvements to improve capacity at J21. And that’s before you count public-sector investments in Weston College and the transformed Winter Gardens to give us a world-class workforce, or cultural improvements to places like Weston Museum.

But it isn’t just jobs or money. Quality of life matters too. Whether it’s visiting a new cinema, encountering our area’s history in the revamped museum, or pounding a treadmill at Hutton Moor as part of a virtual class with the best fitness instructors, the investments make our town and villages better places to live in, as well as work or visit.

If only we could sprinkle some of that fairy dust on Birnbeck Pier..…

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