Concerns have been raised about the job market in Waltham Forest after nearly 1,000 people applied for jobs at a new Tesco.

A total of 43 people on average applied for each of the 23 jobs advertised at the Express store in Lea Bridge Road, Walthamstow, which is set to open on February 18.

Tesco say 15 of the 23 vacancies went to people living in the borough, but opposition councillors claim the council should do more to help generate jobs.

Liberal Democrat leader Bob Sullivan said business rates charged to small businesses should be cut to enable expansion.

“It’s a pity of a situation that all these people have to apply,” the Leyton ward councillor said.
“The Waltham Forest Growth Commission report is coming back very soon and I’m hoping they come up with some practical and innovative ways to increase employment in the area.

“The economic situation for Waltham Forest is one of the lowest in London so drastic measures have to be taken.”

Tesco Express manager, Ramakrishnan Rajendran, said: “I was thrilled by the response we receive to our recruitment drive.

“In this time of economic uncertainty it is great that we are able to create jobs for our local community and help get some people back into work.”

Hafeez Majid, Waltham Forest Business Chamber chairman, said: “This is an indication of the current economic situation being faced by our borough.

“Waltham Forest Business Chamber feels that not enough support is been given to small businesses in order to help them grow and be in a position for them to employ people from our borough.”

According to the council, 66.4 per cent of the 102,800 working-age people in the borough were in work between July 2011 and June 2012.

Cllr Mark Rusling, cabinet member for economic development and corporate resources, defended the Labour leadership's record.

He said: “Since we established the Council's dedicated Business, Employment and Skills team in March 2013, the total number of Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) claimants in our borough has dropped by 25 per cent and youth unemployment has fallen by 29 per cent. This is great news for all those residents who are getting into work. Our residents are getting jobs quicker than residents in the majority of other boroughs - proof that our approach works.

“Our Business, Employment and Skills Team, in partnership with key organisations like Jobcentre Plus and local employment support and training providers, have helped to reduce unemployment levels and maximise local employment opportunities for residents, for example on new building developments. They have also set up a Youth Employment Hub, the first of its kind in the country, which is helping local youngsters into employment and training.”