Deprivation in the Blackdown Hills
Picture more complex than that painted by parish councillor, says AONB team.
Although the Blackdown Hills suffers from a lack of public transport and affordable housing, the picture is more complex than that painted by a parish councillor.
That is the view of the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Team, which has responded to Councillor Graham Long’s comments, published in the Midweek Herald earlier this week, about the district being featured eighth in a national league table of deprived areas.
“Cllr Long is absolutely right to say that some areas within the Blackdown Hills have poor access to public transport and I’m delighted that he has brought this issue under the spotlight,” said Linda Bennett, who manages the AONB.
“However, we must be careful to emphasise that this information relates only to the Otterhead ward, not to the Blackdown Hills generally, as was reported.”
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She added: “It’s also worth underlining that these statistics come from the government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation and the ‘eighth most deprived in the country’ ranking relates only to access to public transport and affordable housing. It doesn’t, for example, relate to employment or household income”.
Blackdown Hills AONB Partnership chairman and Devon County Councillor for Otterhead ward Paul Diviani said: “I was very pleased to see the Midweek Herald covering the issue of access to public transport in rural areas.
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“It’s a real problem for many people and Cllr Long is right to raise it. He mentions the new Blackdown Hills Community Plan, which was produced by local parishes with the support of the AONB team.
“We hope that the plan will give parish councils like Upottery a mechanism to join forces with others in the area to speak up for communities in the Blackdown Hills and work with local authorities to address these kinds of problem.”
The Blackdown Hills Community Plan aims to help the 40 parishes across the AONB to address common issues such as broadband provision, local transport and the impact of severe snowfalls.
The plan also proposes to bring together a group of local people to better understand how the government’s Localism Bill could give greater responsibility for planning to parish councils.
The plan can be downloaded from the Blackdown Hills AONB’s website at www.blackdownhills.org.uk/Parishes.html