PEOPLE in Airedale are living in the highest level of deprivation in the district, according to a new report.
Twelve neighbourhoods have been identified as priority areas in a study commissioned by Wakefield Together Partnership.
The report ranks Airedale and Ferry Fryston as the most deprived area in Wakefield district, with Cutsyke third, the Priory estate in Featherstone tenth and the Warwick estate in Knottingley 12th according to statistics from 2010,
Airedale and Ferry Fryston Coun Les Shaw said work had already started to improve conditions in his ward.
He said: “We know we have got issues around health, lack of employment and with youths in Airedale.
“However work has already started with The Hut to work with youths and with the area planning group which is made up of the council, police and Wakefield and District Housing.
“It’s going to take some time to change of lot of these issues but we will continue to work to improve the lives of residents in Airedale.”
The report shows the gap in health, education and employment rates in areas like Airedale is widening, not only against the rest of the district, but Yorkshire and the UK.
It added that a particular area of concern in deprived communities was child poverty rates which were continuing into adulthood with many young people suffering for “the rest of their lives”.
Rheta Davison, chairman of the Cutsyke Community Group, which works with young people to reduce anti-social behaviour, said: “You need to work with young people to get it through to them that they can do better.
“The trouble is, we don’t have a lot of youth workers in Cutskye and we need dedicated people working here. But until money and time is put in, you won’t break the cycle of deprivation.”
The report noted that 70 per cent of residents lived and worked within the district, but those in ex-coalfield areas suffered more in terms of employment.
Featherstone town councillor John Jackson, who lives on the Priory estate, said: “We used to be a pit town and when we lost the mines things did go down-hill.
“It upsets me to think we’re classed as deprived but I’m proud of where I live.”
The report highlighted that health in the district was relatively poor with smoking, drinking and alcohol higher than the national average as well as early deaths from heart disease, stroke and cancer.
It added those living in more prosperous areas – such as Darrington, Carleton and Ackworth – could expect to live almost nine years longer than those living in deprived areas and the gulf between the “have” and “have not” residents was growing.
Yvette Cooper, MP for Pontefract and Castleford, said: “These figures are deeply worrying and show the pressure many families are under.
“Jobs are still being cut and plenty of people in work are being pushed into poverty.”
The report found good initiatives were already being put forward by the Partnership but recommended renewing its commitment to addressing poverty.
Wakefield Council leader Peter Box told cabinet members considering the report on Tuesday: “We have a huge problem in front of us that we need to address in terms of poverty, in reducing and eliminating it.”