We are getting to that time when we need to consider the budget for the coming year and future years. The country is still in the throes of a financial crisis although indicators point to the UK starting to come out of it quite strongly. How does this affect Alcester? Well we have a strange mix in that there are some parts of the town are reasonably affluent, but we also have one of the areas of highest deprivation in the district. Therefore any decision on finances needs to be cognisant of the whole community. Everything costs. We all want more spending power in our pocket but can the country live with above inflation increases? National government are introducing well intentioned measures to assist the less well-off but, as always, someone has to pay. For example all employees now by law have the option of a pension provided by the employer. This is an additional burden that has to be met by employers. The Chancellor has indicated that he would like to see the minimum wage to increase to £7 per hour. This equates to an 11% increase for some firms and organisations. None of these measures may be huge individually, but they do mount up.
There is a planning application in for the old pharmacy shop in Hopkins Precinct to turn it into a large outlet store for selling low cost alcohol. Is this really the sort of thing that we want there? As has been stated in the press, this is an area historically beset by problems of antisocial behaviour but which has been improving with the efforts of the authorities. Cheap alcohol cannot help matters, only make them worse. The licensing meeting is due to be held on the 7th February at Elizabeth House for those interested in attending.
Mayor of Alcester