The findings of the district manager of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), that Heron ward in Herne Bay has the highest level of deprivation and poverty in the district does not come as a surprise to people who were aware many years ago of the high level of families living in poor private accommodation within the town, the low level of income of these families, and the worrying factors associated with children being raised in these conditions (Regeneration Challenge Of ‘Most Deprived’ Ward, Herne Bay Gazette, November 20).
Added to all of this now is the added factor (pointed out by CAB) that very sick and disabled people have to wait for a year to claim the right benefit because of the time it takes for them to be assessed due to government cuts.
The figures associated with this deprivation were made public 10 years ago by the NHS Primary Care Trust to the Health & Wellbeing Boards. This information would have been clearly put to the city council because it was already designated an area of deprivation during the time of the Labour Government.
What concerns me is that extra finance was provided by the Labour government then to assist these areas across the country; what did our council or KCC do with that extra finance other than to open a Sure Start Centre, which again was a Labour government initiative to help families that needed extra support. Sadly Sure Start Centres became an early casualty of this government’s cuts, with the Greenhill one closing and extra pressure being put onto the one remaining in Heron ward.
Their regeneration plans for the town centre have come to nothing after years of dithering and thousands of pounds spent by the council on useless consultations and exhibitions. The desperate needs of the poor people living within Heron Ward have never been addressed and for Cllr Ron Flaherty, who has been a councillor in the ward for many years to state complacently that there is no magic wand to fix the problems that Herne Bay faces is quite dreadful; the very policies of the government that the Lib Dems support has exacerbated the problems.
In April a United Nations organisation said that “children’s prospects in Britain were worse than most of their European neighbours, and the present government’s austerity policies are making the situation even more dire”. Cllr Flaherty and his fellow Tory counsillors in Heron Ward should think positively and fight to improve the lives of people within it.
Anne Bellworthy, Chairman, Canterbury & District Pensioners’ Forum, Essex Avenue, Herne Bay
Herne Bay Gazette, November 27th 2014