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Well-heeled Holt and North Walsham named child poverty blackspots of north Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 06:30 12 January 2012 | UPDATED: 14:26 12 January 2012

Well-heeled Holt has been named as the child poverty blackspot of north Norfolk.

Child poverty figures in north Norfolk

Holt - 24pc

North Walsham East - 23pc

Cley, Kelling, High Kelling, Salthouse, Weybourne - 22pc

Stalham and Sutton - 21pc

Mundesley, Bacton, Paston - 20pc

North Walsham North - 20pc

Cromer Town - 19pc

Hoveton, Ashmanhaugh - 18pc

Sheringham South - 17pc

Cromer Suffield Park - 17pc

Baconsthorpe, Bodham, Corpusty, Edgefield, Hempstead, Itteringham, Little Barningham, Plumstead - 16pc

Happisburgh, Dilham, Honing, Walcott, Witton - 16pc

Northrepps, Overstrand, Sidestrand, Trimingham - 16pc

North Walsham West - 15pc

Sheringham North - 14pc

Blakeney, Brinton, Field Dalling, Letheringsett, Glandford, Morston, Stody, Thornage, Wiveton - 13pc

Waxham, Brumstead, East Ruston, Horsey, Ingham, Lessingham, Sea Palling - 13pc

Beeston Regis, East Beckham, Gresham, Matlaske, Sustead, Upper Sheringham, West Beckham - 12pc

Erpingham, Alby with Thwaite, Aldborough, Colby, Erpingham, Hanworth, Ingworth, Wickmere - 12pc

Roughton, Felbrigg, Southrepps, Thorpe Market - 12pc

The Runtons and Aylmerton - 11pc

Antingham, Gimingham, Knapton, Swafield, Trunch - 10pc

Worstead, Felmingham, Skeyton, Suffield, Swanton Abbot, Westwick, Worstead - 10pc

Scottow, Sloley, Smallburgh, Tunstead - 9pc

The news may come as a surprise to people who regard the town as a middle-class shopping Mecca with a cafe culture.

But local council and charity officials said the survey reinforced what they already knew – that there is a flip side to the seemingly “posh” Georgian town, which has high levels of deprivation.

An End Child Poverty report looked at the proportion of children living in homes where income was below 60pc of average earnings and families struggled to meet basic needs like food, heating, transport, clothing, school equipment and trips.

Norwich is worst in the county at 30pc. In north Norfolk the figure is half that at 17pc, but within it Holt is at the top with 24pc, just ahead of North Walsham east at 23pc.

Holt Town Council chairman Bryan Payne said he was not surprised by the alarming figures as his council had known for a long time that the town was a deprives area.

He added: “It’s in the top 10pc of deprived areas in the country - not the county. You wouldn’t expect it to be here but there’s two sides to Holt.”

The scale of the Georgian town’s poverty prompted the council to commission a £30,000 Vision study exploring how changes could be made to boost its economy and support its younger residents living on the bread line.

Mr Payne said the study, revealed just before Christmas, contained schemes to enhance the town centre, such as new town squares - but was primarily aimed at helping those in poverty, by introducing measures such as training for young people and creating jobs on a new industrial estate.

“We hope that the things in the Vision will help. The whole idea of doing it was because of deprivation, rather than making the middle of the town pretty,” he added.

Mr Payne hoped the shocking figures would show the true picture of Holt and help the town with future projects, as he felt it had been overlooked when it came to funding because of its well-heeled reputation.

He said: “I think nearly every town in north Norfolk has had about £1m spent on it in different grants and we haven’t had a halfpenny. Everything we have got in Holt has been done by the people of Holt.”

Falling second and third in the report are the wards of North Walsham east (23pc) and Stalham and Sutton (21pc).

North Norfolk-based charity, the Benjamin Foundation, helps provide services for children and young people in the county, including running a second-hand shop in North Walsham - “kidstore” - to sell donated items inexpensively.

Operations director Sharon Matthews said child poverty did not mean going without essential items but a lack of choice.

She added: “It’s not that children have to go without food, but they may have to go without sensible choices of food due to high food prices.

“Holt has a two-tier economy but if you go to Holt you don’t think it’s a deprived area. Some families find it difficult to shops in Holt for things like food because of the type of shops there - delicatessens for example.”

The families involved were affected by fuel poverty, both in homes and their travel. There were also long-term effects involving mental and physical health, such as low self-esteem, obesity, and well-being, but it also helped make community groups stronger to deal with the issues.

North Walsham county councillor Paul Morse said the numbers were “a pretty stark message”.

Pay rates and qualifications in his patch were “always the wrong side of the line,” but he added: “I’m not surprised at the figure but I am surprised at how high it is.”

The report showed the importance of supporting services for people, especially the young, which had been dramatically cut in the last 12 months.

The government had introduced new measures to try and combat the problem including providing free pre-school childcare from the age of two, “pupil premiums”, which targets extra resources at children in schools from poorer backgrounds, and removing people on lower incomes out of tax by raising the threshold to £10,000.

MP Norman Lamb said people should not be deceived by the appearance of north Norfolk.

He added: “North Norfolk is actually a low wage economy. There are areas of real poverty. The wages often in the tourism industry are fairly low and rural areas don’t always get the attention and focus.”

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