Pick your priorities
One of the great things about meetings with Chamber and Initiative members is you get a sense of significant changes in how people are thinking as they adapt to the challenges facing businesses and how real people are going about the everyday task of living their lives.
There was a really interesting example of that recently when a couple of highly experienced and respectable members said something which at first glance sounds quite shocking. So, brace yourselves.
They made the claim that the Housing Crisis is a more pressing problem than the Climate Crisis and consequently we should be giving it greater attention and spending more time solving it than we currently are.
For at least the last couple of years it’s true that discussions about the green agenda in all its multiple facets have been front and centre of people’s minds. Some quite ambitious targets have been set at local and national level and alterations have been made to regulations in a bid to carry through change.
That’s all well and good, but all successful businesses know they need to plan for the short, medium and long term. What those members were suggesting is that by over prioritising the long term we run the risk of not doing enough to deal with the short term issues and the here and now.
They are worried about the very many people whose lives are badly affected by not having a proper home and the great shortage of affordable housing. As a business community, we are keen to see sufficient suitable housing being delivered to accommodate the workforce and underpin a successful and sustainable local economy. But that’s no easy matter and it needs effective partnership working and imaginative and courageous political leadership, because when it comes to house building there will always be those who object to where it’s done.
But this crisis is not just about housing, it’s about giving everyone a chance to live their lives as they would wish. Whilst we are lucky enough to live in a district where there is much prosperity there are also areas of serious deprivation. There is a disturbing difference in life expectancy across our patch and worrying gaps in educational attainment.
Steps are being taken to address these issues, but funding and resources will continue to be under huge pressure so it won’t be possible to do everything. Just maybe it’s a moment to reconsider priorities and balance up the needs of today against the demands of tomorrow.