Is West Norfolk being left behind?
In the Market column by Joe Bunker.
Joe is a 17-year-old media student from Heacham who has written to the Lynn News as a guest columnist for In the Market.
A major issue this country is facing is under-investment in the communities and areas outside of London - West Norfolk is a prime example of this.
For too long investment has been concentrated in super-served cities like London (and more recently Cambridge) with high capital-expenditure projects in transport and infrastructure.
On the ground this means restricted job prospects in this area for teenagers like me (I want to go into the media production industry and am doing a BTEC in Creative Media Production at the College of West Anglia) – to pursue a career we are forced to move from our local area and take on the huge financial burden that living in the capital entails.
We live in a beautiful part of the country, but that’s not enough when you are starting to look at job options for the future and have to work out how you are going to earn a living.
Without significant investment in an area, and Government incentives to move and invest there, large new employers won’t move in, meaning that local people will lack good job prospects.
The digital revolution and fast broadband was meant to mean that we could work from anywhere – instead there has been an increasing concentration of jobs in London. And there is real pressure on local infrastructure – evidenced by the delayed investment in the rail line to King’s Lynn.
This lack of opportunity has wider implications on social issues – for example, drug-related deaths in the UK have soared by 17 per cent in the UK (a recent ONS study), as without good job prospects and hope for the future people get bored and can turn to illegal substances to fill their void.
As I walk the streets of King’s Lynn I am overwhelmed by the abundance of empty retail space, as more and more shops close and face economic ruin.
In fact, in a study carried out by the retail analysist, Springboard, found shop vacancies in Norfolk had reached their highest level for three years, with one in 12 units left empty on the county’s high streets.
If we want to keep the high street thriving and ensure there are plenty of job opportunities for the people of this area the government need to start investing!
In the national media we frequently hear about urban issues that face cities like London, including air pollution and youth knife crime, but very rarely about the under-investment in areas like West Norfolk.
We are a forgotten part of the UK. The bottom line is that we are being left behind and unless something is done to tackle this imbalance then it will continue this way. Do you want to be left behind?