I am acutely aware that local fuel supplies are far from back to normal. However with reserve tankers deployed, the Armed Forces drivers having started on Monday and the simple fact that a lot of “normal” demand and more was met in the initial demand spike we will see ongoing improvements.
Longer term there is, as I wrote last week, work to be done to get beyond the covid bottleneck on driving tests and to tempt more drivers back into the industry. The significant increase in driver training and testing, meeting the real demand from people to enter the sector is the right place to start.
Drivers are not the only area where there are great opportunities for those seeking employment. Last Saturday I attended the Horsham District Council Job Fair in the Drill Hall. There was large range of local and national employers in attendance. It was in particularly good to see Piron Recycling to talk about the successes of the Kickstart scheme.
In recent weeks I have attended meetings with our local Job Centre and also the Local Enterprise Partnership to discuss the recovery from the pandemic. Our main worry, particularly for those in the aviation and travel sector, was the end of furlough last month. It is good news that Gatwick is bringing back all furloughed staff but I recognise that this transition is a worrying time for many.
The LEP are putting great focus into increasing footfall in our town centre and on sustainable jobs – seeking to make the southeast a hub for new hydrogen powered vehicles. Whatever the future engines that will power them they are also intent to help expand our HGV workforce, targeting the creation of a new HGV training centre in the region.
Covid led to the disruption of many usual patterns of activity. 18 months of postponements, hold ups and delays have had a huge impact and it will take time and resources to sort these issues even as the economy bounces back. We also need to recognise the changes that are happening across the world and how vital it is to invest in the skills we need to thrive in a competitive global world.
Lastly may I say how sad I am that Horsham District Council and our community have lost Councillor Roy Cornell whose funeral is next week. Roy was dedicated to his Roffey constituents who he served on the Council for fourteen years. Roy, his kindness and his humour will be very much missed.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Quin with Piron at the Horsham Jobs Fair