'Ashfield jobs for Ashfield people' vowed at new 1,800-job Summit Park development

Summit Park development.
Summit Park development.

Securing high-skilled, worthwhile jobs for Ashfield residents at the new Summit Park development has been set as a target by the district council.

Speaking at the authority's annual 'State of Ashfield Debate', which explored economic growth in the area moving forward, there was a consensus among councillors to "make sure residents get the best jobs available".

The new development, which is set to bring 1,800 jobs, is due to be completed in about a year's time, with a very high-profile international distribution firm touted to take hold of the one-million square feet site on the MARR route.

Giving a speech to the council, interim chief executive Carol Cooper-Smith outlined how the authority wants to "bridge the skills gap" in the district and secure "careers, not part time work", for residents.

"Our working population is ageing, and I think there's an imperative to bring younger people in and get them skilled up", she said.

"With the Summit Park development, it has the potential to create these 1,800 jobs.

"And what I really want is a good proportion of jobs going to Ashfield residents.

"I think that should be the top priority on everybody's list - Ashfield residents getting into those jobs.

"But I also want to work with our partners, with the D2N2 local enterprise partnership and with the DWP, to make sure our residents don't just get the bag carrier jobs, the picking and packing jobs.

"I want them to get jobs in IT, jobs in finance, marketing, trade and transport planning.

"I don't just want them to be sweeping, because they're the jobs that will be vulnerable to economic change.

"I think it is incumbent on all of us to make sure that happens, and I think we've got the opportunity to make it happen."

Ms Cooper-Smith added that she wants the council to work with education partners such as Vision West Nottinghamshire College to ensure that training is provided to meet these "skills demands".

Her calls were echoed across the chamber, with councillors calling for the available jobs to be "secure employment" that will provide "worthwhile careers" for residents.

Councillor Kier Morrison, deputy leader of the Labour group, said: "Whilst jobs are great, what we need is a magnifying glass over what those jobs are.

"For example, are they full time, are they part time, are they agency work, are they zero-hours contract and are they more than the minimum wage?

"The wages in Ashfield are nine per cent less than the country's average, and that's something I'd like to see addressed."