With so many businesses, especially in retailing, closing down with a loss of many thousands of jobs, and many town centres like ‘ghost’ towns, we need to rethink how we do business.
Maybe the thing to do is to make town centres far more residential with parks and other open spaces and make it possible for specialist independent food shops (like greengrocers and butchers sourcing ethical products from local suppliers) to survive and prosper alongside general grocers, with sensible business rates. There would also be restaurants, bars, theatres and family entertainment facilities (including sport centres) to encourage a more community ‘feel’ to a locality. Then other businesses aimed at the public could be housed in ‘out of town’ centres which have excellent public transport links. These centres would not have food shops nor entertainment so as to not compete with the town centres. With regard to industry, factories and workshops be clustered together around a number of different ‘niche’ specialist areas that can sell its products worldwide in another self contained area, also with good public transport links (and especially rail so that less is shipped by road). (There has to be a number of different industries in case any sector has difficulties.) The UK needs to think about what areas of business it can offer which is different to other countries if it is to compete in overseas markets. It also needs to consider the ethics of a business including its effect on the environment. Business itself needs to reconsider its policies towards margins as I am sure many companies shut branches just because they only make a small profit – an employer has a responsibility to each community it operates in and not just its shareholders. A key to all this are a number of things – a passion for quality products and services and excellent customer serivice, along with motivated and properly trained staff and a caring management who lead and encourage innovation in all areas.
The Education Sector has a key part to play in all this in helping young people develop good working relationships with each other, skills in being inquisitive and wanting to learn, and finding ways to be creative both mentally, physically, socially and spirtually so as to create ‘whole’ people who care about others and the environment and be able to practice ‘moral absolutes’. Then when it comes to choosing a career they will be able to think through what their skills and interests are leaning towards, including whether they want to go down a practical or academic path or both! We need a good mixture of apprenticeships and academic rigour to develop people for the future. (I believe we should have ‘learning’ apprenticeships for those wishing to go down an academic research path.)
To take the above ideas further, develop and where necessary amend them, the Government needs to get as many people from all walks of life involved. This means sending out appropriate questionnaires (with prizes to encourage completion), local forums, television and radio debates and an independent commission then draws all the ideas together with a timed scale of suggested actions which have been costed and broken down into specific projects and who would need to take the lead. Such a commission would need to consist of people from all ethnic groups, faith groups, business sectors (especially the building and transport ones), training providers, political parties, think tanks, youth groups, and other groups which represent every area of society. Then the Government will need to develop strategies to put them into action, including making sure the right number of trained people, finance and other resources are in place before commencing the action plan. With regard to finance, the budget will need to be designed to take into account many ‘obstacles’ and other contingencies that may occur.