Nothing is impossible, says determined county councillor Mark Dance
by business editor Trevor
Businessman and county councillor Mark Dance has hit the ground
running by launching a “Top Gun” team of experienced officials to
consider the implications of every policy issue on the economy.
The new cabinet member for regeneration and economic development
is keen to take his brief into all policy areas because he says it
is at the heart of jobs growth and prosperity for the county.
Roads, property, ICT, finance all have an impact, he says.
“Regeneration and economic development aren’t a silo. It’s got
to go right across the whole of KCC.”
This goes to the heart of his philosophy that puts business
first. His creed is “Nothing is impossible” and he admits to
frustration at bureaucratic delays. He is determined to remove
“Business is my top priority,” declares Dance, who has run a
construction and glazing firm for 10 years. But so too are young
people. He has already implemented plans for an apprenticeship
scheme in memory of his predecessor Kevin Lynes.
He shares the late councillor’s enthusiasm for helping young
people into the world of work.
Before Cllr Lynes’ death at the age of 51 earlier this year, his
twin aims were to promote Kent business and encourage employers to
hire young people struggling to find work.
Dance has found £50,000 to start the Kevin Lynes Apprenticeship
Scheme to help a potentially “lost generation.”
He says: “If they’ve had no luck, let’s try and make some luck
and get them in front of an employer.”
Dance is equally passionate about schools’ careers advice which
he dismisses as light and patchy. As former cabinet member for
education, he has seen that schools are not doing enough to turn
out “work-ready” youngsters.
“It’s an embarrassment,” he says. “How do we engage business
with schools? We’ve got to get into schools earlier, to start
talking to young people about careers at the primary
Dance has been working on the third Regional Growth Fund bid of
£30m, which would create 3,000 jobs in the Kent Thames Gateway and
If approved, it would offer –like Expansion East Kent at the
ex-Pfizer site at Sandwich – interest-free loans to companies
investing and creating jobs in the Ebbsfleet area.
He has recently become a board member of Locate in Kent, the
inward investment agency.
Dance says a third Thames crossing is crucial. “The payback
would be massive and quick.” He also wants to see a roundabout
outside the Kent County showground. Rural regeneration is another
He is excited by his new role, declaring he is a round peg in a
round hole. He cut his teeth on his latest brief as chairman of the
regeneration and economic development policy overview and scrutiny
With high-profile cabinet roles in education and economic
development on his CV, Dance has held Premier League cabinet
portfolios. He is itching to make a difference.
Council colleagues can expect to be led a merry Dance if they
fail to engage in his agenda and passion for business, economic
success and young people’s achievement.