Council clashes over youth jobs

NILABE110708e3, official opening of Victoria park leisure centre, Ilkeston by MP Jessica Lee, seen with Mike Wallis lead member for culture and leisure and Jeremy Jaroszek chief executive.
NILABE110708e3, official opening of Victoria park leisure centre, Ilkeston by MP Jessica Lee, seen with Mike Wallis lead member for culture and leisure and Jeremy Jaroszek chief executive.

EREWASH MP Jessica Lee has defended her commitment to helping fight youth unemployment in the borough.

The Conservative MP came under fire from Labour councillors during a heated debate on how best to tackle the problem.

While both sides agreed action needs to be taken, they clashed over how it should be dealt with.

The Erewash Labour Group put forward a motion at Thursday night’s full council meeting which urged Erewash Borough Council to rally Miss Lee, the business secretary and education secretary to meet with local businesses and work out a way to solve the issue.

But the controlling Conservative group amended the motion because of the work already being done by Miss Lee, a move which angered the opposition.

Speaking after the meeting, Miss Lee told the Advertiser she already regularly meets with schools and local businesses – particularly as part of her role on the board of regeneration company the Erewash Partnership – to discuss opportunities for young people.

She added: “The concerns about youth unemployment in Erewash are long standing over many years and extremely important.

“Equipping young people with skills and education is fundamental, and offer the best chance for young people to have a bright future.

“I will continue to meet with business leaders and representatives from the local business community and the Erewash Partnership and lobby executives about the need to support young people in to work.

“I have met with the Minister, John Hayes MP, to highlight the need for apprenticeships and skills training in Erewash.

“I have spoken in the House of Commons about the particular need for investment in Erewash and the areas of deprivation that require support.

“I have always been passionate about standing up for both young people and investment in Erewash and will continue to do so.”

But speaking during the debate, Labour’s Cllr Ernest Bevan, called for even more action to help those struggling to find a job.

“I’ve been there, I was young and unemployed and it’s soul destroying,” he said.

“I was lucky I found work but for those that don’t there are massive effects.

“They struggle to ever find work and as a result their health and other things are affected.”

And Cllr Louis Booth, who tabled the original motion, said they needed to ensure steps are taken to solve the problem before it is too late.

“Something needs to be done about this and that’s what we said when we put forward the motion,” he added.

“The meaning has been changed in the amended motion, it’s vague and won’t be followed up. The bottom line of this argument is that young people in Erewash need jobs.

“You only have to look at the south of the country to see investment everywhere, it’s a whole different story up here in Erewash and we as a council need to change that.”