In Kenilworth we have a lot to celebrate at the moment. We have a successful and vibrant business community, which was showcased at the Chamber of Trade’s successful Business Fair last month, attended by Lord Digby Jones and I. The Fair was very well attended, with higher footfall through the course of the day than the previous year's event. I was also pleased to hear that Sketts, the company who provides our weekly market was nominated as Small Business of the Year at the recent pride of Warwick District Awards. Despite being beaten to the trophy on the night it shows what good shape our market and town centre is in.
Markets are an important and integral part of any local community and economy and have traditionally been at the heart of many town and city centres offering a friendly service and value for money. Retail guru Mary Portas has also emphasised the importance of markets, recognising that they help to breathe life back into town centres and drive traffic towards shops.
Kenilworth and Southam is also enjoying high employment figures. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), Kenilworth and Southam had the 644th lowest unemployment rate of the 650 parliamentary constituencies, with only 0.7% claiming unemployment – this is lower than in June 2013 and May 2014. Nationally, we have seen the unemployment rate drop to 6.5%, with 1.8 million more people in work than at the General Election in May 2010. Of course we cannot afford to be complacent and helping more people to find work will remain vital but these latest figures are encouraging.
Similarly, I welcome the news that crime is also falling. Latest figures from the ONS released earlier this month show that since 2010 recorded crime in Warwickshire has fallen by 12%. Thanks to the hard work of police officers, families in Warwickshire are safer and more secure.
None of this means that there are not significant challenges still to be overcome or that life in the town can’t always be improved, but it’s important too to recognise the good news when it comes.