Councillors are to get tough on poverty issues in the wake of a damning report which labelled Skegness the UK’s most deprived seaside resort.
The report published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) last year, looked at seven indices: income, employment, health and disability, education skills and training, barriers to housing and services, crime and living environment.
Former Skegness Mayor Coun Mark Anderson has declared: “Enough is enough, and something has to be done about it.”
He and Mablethorpe Town councillor Tony Howard, have called upon ELDC to do something about it, to save the area’s reputation, introducing the following motion at the latest full council meeting: ‘This council recognises continuing deprivation issues throughout our district, and in answer to continued negative press and the resultant damage to the areas reputation, resolves to tackle these issues.’
The full motion proposed that, in developing a corporate strategy, a section specifically dedicated to eradicating deprivation issues should be included, a commitment to a timetable to see measures in place, partner organisations urged to support and prioritise the eradication of deprivation issues and tasking of the overview commitee, with tracking the implementation of such measures to ensure the timetable is observed and slippage is avoided; reporting regularly to the council.
During the debate, high levels of unemployment and poor mortality rates, due mainly to illnesses associated with obesity were discussed as major problems, as well as fuel poverty, the moral, social and financial costs to the district and inconsistences across the district in terms of education, free school meals, poor housing, poor social care and health outcomes.
It was raised key strategies to tackle deprivation were important to save money in the future, economic development was vital and should be encouraged.
Succesful partnership working has already been undertaken to be built into the Health and Well-Being Service being developed.
It was also aknowledged that there were pockets of deprivation throughout the district, not just along the coast.
Coun Anderson told The Standard: “Whether we like it or not, our main industry is the tourist trade.
“In this area we have a low skilled workforce, poor education and transport links, people have poor diets and we are heavily reliant on seasonal work.
“I’m not trying to talk the town down, but we need to build it up. Our reputation is being hurt and we need to improve it by working with the public and private sectors and we need to extend our seasons to create an all year round visitor attraction.”
“East Lindsey has done a good job to develop low affordable homes, but there is still a long way to go as there is a long waiting list in Skegness,” he added.
Coun Anderson continued: “Furthermore, flooding is an issue we need to overcome, we need a stategic plan to lift up our community and create a better infastructure, this includes main roads and broadband.
“The area needs to grow, to make it more sustainable, without growth we will stagnate and public services will be withdrwawn. The only way to secure public services is to have a large population base, but at the minute the area offers very little.”
The motion was adopted to be worked within the members workshop for the new emerging Core Strategy at East Lindsey District Council with a clear strategy for improvement to be ready by next year.