Sean Coughlan, Leader of Walsall Council’s Labour group.
A guaranteed interview for veterans applying for council jobs is at the heart of a strategy to create a fairer, better and more prosperous Walsall. The borough’s ruling Labour group has won cross party support for its vision for the borough, entitled ‘Shaping A Fairer Future.’
The strategy will focus on creating more jobs and homes, improving education and training, supporting local businesses and protecting the most vulnerable in the community. Its intention is to deal with the long standing failures of the previous council leadership and to tackle low wages, high unemployment, child poverty, low educational attainment and health inequalities.
A promise of a guaranteed job interview for veterans is central to the policy’s determination to reach out to the whole community, especially those overlooked and ignored in the past.
Priorities include protecting the most vulnerable such the elderly, disabled and children at risk, creating jobs and new homes, improving health across the borough, improving our schools and protecting and supporting our local communities and town centres. It will build on the steps the council has already taken in the last seven months, such as cutting councillors’ allowances, paying staff a living wage, driving up standards in schools and appointing the borough’s first armed forces champion
Council leader, Sean Coughlan, who presented the strategy said:
“A Fairer Future is about building better opportunities and hope for Walsall. Its aims are to give businesses and the people of Walsall reason to have confidence in the future despite the huge difficulties we face. Services are being cut and not just luxuries. Since 2010, 40% of all the Government imposed cuts in Walsall have fallen on the most disadvantaged. We have to stop the vulnerable carrying the can for a national and international economic crisis.
“Rather than just hope for a better future, what we believe what we must do is build that future. We will find new and innovative ways of working together, with locally designed solutions that are shaped around and met the needs of our communities.”
One of the first steps of the plan will be to develop community hubs for each of the borough’s six area partnerships, drawing on the views and needs of local people and partner organisations such as whg and voluntary sector groups. This will give community groups – no matter how big or how small – the ability to influence the decisions of Councillors and the authority at a local level and hold them to account.
Deputy leader of the council and portfolio holder of regeneration, Mohammed Nazir added: “In the future the council will spend more of its money with local firms, boosting Walsall’s economy and helping local businesses. It will review its contracts and procurement practices so decisions have a positive impact on local jobs and skills. Support social enterprises that put profits back into creating more jobs; giving opportunities for apprenticeships and training to local people. It will also offer a guaranteed interview for all available council jobs to former armed service personnel.”
Councillor Carl Creaney (centre right) with serving and ex-members of the Armed Services.
Armed forces champion, Cllr Carl Creaney, said the promise of job interviews for veterans was symbolic of the ethos behind the plan.
“It is easy to forget the sacrifices of our veterans, and when they leave the forces it is sometimes difficult for them to readjust to civilian life. A guaranteed job interview will be a big help to them but it also illustrates a shared value between veterans and our plans for a fairer future; which can be summed up as ‘We won’t accept anyone being left behind’.”