High level meeting on deprivation

COUNCIL bosses have turned their attention to one of Dewsbury’s most deprived areas in a bid to improve the prospects of its residents.

Figures show deprivation in Chickenley has increased over the past five years, despite efforts to tackle its root causes.

The latest Index of Multiple Deprivation, which looks at issues like income, employment, health, education and crime, ranks Chickenley in the worst 10 per cent in the country.

This is compared to 2007 figures which showed around half of homes were in the worst 10 per cent.

Coun Paul Kane (Lab, Dews East) said the decline was unacceptable.

“It isn’t a criticism of the council now or previously,” he said. “We have done a lot of work in Chickenley, but it needs some new ideas. We need to have another think about how we’re going to raise aspirations.”

Coun Kane said he was particularly concerned by attainment, unemployment and poverty among the elderly.

He said: “One figure that’s most concerning to me is the attainment levels and aspiration levels for children in Chickenley.

“Given the amount of money invested, why have we not seen a dramatic increase? Are we investing in the right things?”

He said low attainment inevitably led to high unemployment and in turn elderly people living in poverty.

On Wednesday, council leader Coun Mehboob Khan and chief executive Adrian Lythgo met Coun Kane, local headteachers, council officers and Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing to talk about what more could be done.

Coun Khan said: “This meeting was held in Chickenley to hear first hand the issues of concern and how we can work together with the community and other agencies to address them effectively.

“Reducing these inequalities is a top priority.”

Coun Kane added: “The next step is to listen to the people themselves, for us to understand why this same community feel that an area with so many good families and excellent education delivery vehicles, accept second best when it come to what they expect out of life.”