Council’s vision to grow North Devon economy
PUBLISHED: 11:00 23 January 2018
Action is needed to prevent an ageing population and not enough workers crippling North Devon’s economy in the future, says North Devon Council
Worrying signs suggest North Devon’s economy could be facing a major slump as its workforce gets older.
North Devon Council (NDC) is determined to tackle the issue and has ambitious plans to help stimulate the growth of the area over a long period of time.
Councillors recently attended two workshops to start looking at what sort of growth is needed and where it should go.
North Devon already has an ageing population but alarming demographic projections suggest it will end up with a more elderly residents and a reduction in those of working age.
The council says the local labour market is near full employment now and a reducing workforce will hamper the ability of businesses to grow.
To tackle this, the council wants to influence events by increasing the number of people of working age.
It says this needs a bolder, integrated approach to planning for economic growth by taking business needs into account alongside housing needs.
To help councillors decide the best way forward, they heard from speakers who have taken an economy-led approach to housing growth in other places, including Exeter and Taunton.
NDC leader Des Brailey said: “It’s clear that we need to be working on a long term plan to create a prosperous and sustainable future for North Devon.
“This is a plan that will transcend several council administration periods and to realise a positive result for North Devon, we all need to pull together to produce one vision which can galvanise everyone to achieve for the district.”
His counterpart, Liberal Democrat leader Brian Greenslade, added: “This is a step in the right direction and my colleagues and I will play our part in trying to deliver growth in North Devon. What is important now is to turn talking into action.”
Leader of the Independent Group Cllr Mike Edmunds said it was important to work with schools and Petroc so that young people could ‘gain the skills that will be needed to obtain the high quality jobs that we need to make North Devon a more prosperous area to live’.
Leader of the South Molton Independent Group John Moore added: “We’ve got a strong history of bringing economic growth into North Devon and I’m confident that by pulling together, we can meet this challenge and build on the excellent foundations we already have.”
The council said the next steps are to agree the vision for North Devon, talk to key partners and stakeholders and to develop a delivery plan.