Political column: Gloria de Piero

WIN OF THE MONTH – there were quite a few candidates to choose from but in the end I had to opt for a case which came to my attention just before Christmas.

Saturday, 1st February 2014, 6:31 am
Gloria de Piero

I’d been in touch with a lovely lady who runs the Alfreton Road Residents’ Association.

The people involved up there are good people and they do all sorts of brilliant things for others - organising outings and events for older people and those with disabilities.

The issue was that they needed a meeting room once a week where they could all get together. I asked the landlord at the Staff of Life pub if they could help out and it turns out their good work hadn’t gone unnoticed.

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They now meet every Wednesday at a room in the pub and around 30 people turned up last time to chat, do a quiz and play games.

One good turn for another and another great example of why I love Ashfield.

There was actually a big debate on pubs in Parliament last week and it was a debate worth having when you consider an estimated 26 pubs are closing up and down the country every week.

I want to see ministers do more to support our local pubs by introducing a code of practice protecting small landlords and ensuring they aren’t exploited by large chains who sometimes give them a raw deal. You don’t need me to tell you that some pubs are the heart and soul of local communities - what better example than the Staff of Life helping out the residents’ group.

Every time that we lose one it costs jobs, especially for young people, and hits the local economy by an average of £80,000 and that’s why we can’t afford for this trend to continue.

There was a bit of good news for the country as a whole with the latest stats showing an overall fall in unemployment. Welcome news but unfortunately Ashfield didn’t mirror the national trend.

In fact we seem to have taken a step backwards with a small increase in the number of people signing on compared to the previous month.

It just goes to show the Government can’t afford to be complacent, particularly in places like ours when long term unemployment for all ages still remains stubbornly high.

The stats still paint a stark picture when you consider we’ve seen a 67 per cent increase in the number of young people who have been out of work for more than a year since 2010.

More needs to be done to tackle this problem and I’d like to see a compulsory jobs guarantee to get people back to work and a basic skills test to ensure everyone claiming jobseekers allowance has the skills they need to find