Areas of Weston among most deprived in the country as councillors call to address inequality

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 August 2018

Councillors Donald Davies (left) and Denise Hunt (centre) criticised the inequality gap.

Councillors Donald Davies (left) and Denise Hunt (centre) criticised the inequality gap.

Archant

North Somerset has the third largest inequality gap in the country, with deprivation particularly felt in areas of Weston.

Pill ward councillor Don Davies proposed a motion at North Somerset’s full council meeting at the end of July to address inequality and introduce measures to improve outcomes for people across the region.

Cllr Davies wanted the authority to revise its corporate plan to improve outcomes in areas such as health, child poverty, social and affordable housing for rent and public transport provision, but his motion was rejected.

The Mercury reported in February 5,800 children are below the poverty line, with a third of children in Central ward living in deprivation.

MORE: 6,000 Weston children live in poverty.

The Alfred Street and the Marine Parade areas of town are among the two per cent most deprived areas in England.

According to Cllr Davies, more than two thirds of voters are concerned about inequality.

He said: “North Somerset Council has many things to be proud of but this is certainly not one of them.

“Levels of social isolation among older people have increased while there are also serious questions to be asked around our health care and public transport provision.

“The difference between people at the top and those at the bottom is stark.”

North Worle Cllr Denise Hunt supported the motion.

She said: “The gaps are now so wide which makes it a very serious issue.

“This council has an important role to play with how it supports communities.”

Work is being done to attempt to improve the situation - a poverty hearing initiated by Equality North Somerset took place in July and was attended by support agencies.

The group has a long-term aim of reducing economic and social inequality by tackling the problems which cause poverty.

At the council meeting, some councillors spoke about the work which goes on to tackle inequality.

Cllr Reyna Knight called Cllr Davies’ motion ‘an insult’ to those working hard to tackle the issue.

Cllr Ann Harley, chairman of the children and young people scrutiny panel, said the council is looking at ways to improve the situation ‘all the time’.

She said: “North Somerset is a very responsible and proactive authority, and this has been proven with the setting up of working parties who research in depth issues around inequality.

“Money is tight and it is a very sad situation but some of us work very hard to eradicate these issues.

“We live in a world where it is always going to be unequal, if we put up council tax then elderly people will struggle.”

“A lot has been done to try to get things on a more even playing field.”

“Inequality is forefront in anything we do and we are working all the time to try and ease those pressures.”

Cllr Knight added: “A lot has been done to try to get things on a more even playing field.”

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