Barrie Grunewald: My business pledge for all

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I was delighted to see that the number of young people on Jobseekers Allowance in St Helens has fallen to below 4,000 for the first time in seven years.

When I became leader one of the first things I did was to commit funding for private sector apprenticeships delivered by the Council’s economic development team and St Helens Chamber.

I also pledged £1m for business grants and a further £1m for business loans to help the local economy. I have also committed a further £1m to specifically support retail activity in the town centre.

These latest figures are more than encouraging and I am committed to significant improvements in the level of educational attainment for young people and addressing youth unemployment.

It is my intention that every young person should be given every opportunity to gain work.

g Anyone who reads this column will know that I am passionate about getting a fair deal for the people who need it most. I am very happy to report that the council has called on the government to put an end to the benefits system ‘fiasco.”

The new system hits at the very heart of the people who need help most, the sick and the vulnerable. There have been local reports of people waiting for up to nine months to have their benefits sorted – this is totally unacceptable.

The government system is a shambles and is manufactured to hit people already caught in the poverty trap.

I am very concerned that there is unacceptable delay in the awarding of the Personal Independence Payment which is causing avoidable stress to those who are already vulnerable.

I will not rest until this disgraceful unfairness is scrapped and a more fair and equitable system brought in.

g Get streets ahead with the return of Summer Streets three days of outdoor performances set against a carnival atmosphere.

Following the huge success of last year’s event it returns on Thursday 31 July until Saturday 2 August. Festivities will run between 11am and 4pm.

Once again we have a stellar line-up of world-class artists featuring comedy, music, acrobatics, dance, magic and theatre. All the action will take place on the streets in the town centre and all of the performances are free.

Visitors to the three-day event will be welcomed to entertaining acts including: Saurus - an amazing set of roaming dinosaurs that will thrill and amaze, Candyman -the best human statue in the world, officially! The Candyman is two-time world champion, having been crowned winner twice at the Human Statue World Championships; the hugely entertaining trapeeze artists - The Aerialists, the amazing JP Puppets who last year thrilled audiences with his amazing small puppet performances and whole host of world-class street entertainment and dance performances throughout Church Square and Church Street.

St Helens will be buzzing with performances from all over the world for three terrific days of free entertainment.

Summer Streets forms a key part of our comprehensive town centre event programme designed to provide support to our town centre retailers and provide residents and visitors with a range of cultural opportunities in the heart of our town.

It is sure to be a great way to spend a day, so why not come down and get involved in the fun.