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Thanet among most deprived areas in the country

By Paul Francis

Thanet ranks as one of the poorest parts of the country - and deprivation has worsened in the last five years, shock figures have revealed.

Figures published today by the Department of Communities and Local Government rank Thanet as the 35th most deprived area of England and Wales of 326.

It is placed as the second poorest local authority area in the south east and the poorest in Kent, based on factors such as unemployment, health care, crime levels and educational achievement.

Northdown Road in Cliftonville, Margate. Library image.
Northdown Road in Cliftonville, Margate. Library image.

And the Cliftonville West ward is the fourth most deprived in the entire country.

The shock figures have prompted calls for the government to do more to tackle problems with privately-rented housing.

“One of the problems is that people are on short-term tenancies and that leads to a lot of movement in and out" - KCC councillor Will Scobie

Will Scobie, Labour county councillor for the area, said: “One of the problems is that people are on short-term tenancies and that leads to a lot of movement in and out. There are obviously a higher proportion of people on benefits but not everyone is.”

He said councils needed to have stronger powers to act against rogue landlords, especially where flats and bedsits were often occupied by five or six people on short-term lets.

“The government seems unwilling and not prepared to take action because it does not believe in regulating private landlords.”

He praised efforts by the Margate Task Force to improve the economy and tackle some of the issues but said the problems of deprivation, crime and the high number of vulnerable children were being managed rather than resolved.

“If the task force was not doing what it is, things would be much worse. You can’t run away from the fact that if we had more people working, the economy would be much better.”

He also praised initiatives such as Live Margate, which was trying to bring back multi-occupation homes and former hotels as family homes.

“That is a good scheme but I question whether £30m is enough.”

Will Scobie
Will Scobie

The statistics make for grim reading as the area has slipped further back in the deprivation “league table”.

In 2010, it was the 49th most deprived local authority area in England and Wales.

Former Green Party Thanet councillor Ian Driver said: “I am extremely concerned that Thanet has become more deprived over the past five years.

“This is undoubtedly the result of the austerity measures imposed by the coalition government which led to massive cuts in public spending on schools and colleges.”

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