Angry councillor hits back over deprived area’ claim
AN EYNESBURY councillor has hit back after his area was described as one of Huntingdonshire s two deprived regions – the other being Oxmoor. A new Government neighbourhood management scheme aimed at improving the delivery of local services, including po
AN EYNESBURY councillor has hit back after his area was described as one of Huntingdonshire's two deprived regions - the other being Oxmoor.
A new Government "neighbourhood management" scheme aimed at improving the delivery of local services, including policing, identifies the two areas as falling within the 10 per cent most deprived in the district.
According to analysis, both Oxmoor and Eynesbury trigger concern on the level of crime, poor educational and employment achievement, poor health, low incomes, quality of housing, air quality and traffic accidents.
Other indicators are the number of residents claiming Jobseeker's Allowance, Working Family Tax Credit and Council Tax benefit.
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This brought a furious reaction from Councillor Andrew Hansard, who lives in Eynesbury, at last week's meeting of Huntingdonshire District Council's cabinet.
"Where do the figures come from? How old are they?" he demanded to know.
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"Ninety per cent of the crime in Eynesbury is in Tesco's car park," he said.
"And I can't understand the reference to education. The college has specialist status and very good results.
"A lot of people seem to be on benefits. Fine. We have a very large social housing area.
"It seems to categorise people. They are nice, ordinary people in Eynesbury."
Councillor Jean Chandler suggested that some of the most desirable villages in the district could be classified as deprived - if you looked at the facilities they lacked, such as shops and public transport.
"The residents of Eynesbury are so enthusiastic about their part of St Neots," she said. "It must be demoralising to be told they live in a deprived area."
Deputy leader Councillor Mike Simpson said the figures on which the report was based were from 2004 and had been published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
The district council's operations director, Malcolm Sharp, said Huntingdonshire was not a homogeneous area.
"The fact is that some areas do give social services more referrals. There are crime hotspots, and I accept Tesco's car park may be one of them.
"This is no inner city area but there are levels of deprivation. The bald fact is that, if we want to pull in additional resources, this is the sort of measure we have to recommend members to adopt.
"There are issues we could do something about if we got the resources.