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Special NFDC committee to focus on deprived areas in New Milton, Hythe, Fawley and Pennington is rejected

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CALLS by the Liberal Democrats for a special committee to support the New Forest’s most deprived neighbours were voted down by ruling Conservatives.

The idea proposed by Lib Dem Cllr Jack Davies would have focused attention on four areas which ranked in the top 20% of England for income deprivation.

He suggested a working group of councillors to come up with a deprivation action plan, alongside the addition of a new priority in NFDC’s core policies of “reducing overall deprivation”.

It was proposed by Lib Dem Cllr Jack Davies
It was proposed by Lib Dem Cllr Jack Davies

But at a meeting in Lyndhurst, the Tory administration accused the opposition of “grandstanding” and said the authority already had mechanisms in place to support the most deprived households.

Cabinet member Cllr Jeremy Heron said: “We cannot operate in isolation – no one can.

“We are way too small to address it and so we work in partnership with Citizens Advice with Community First Wessex, Ringwood and Waterside food banks, New Forest Basics Bank and Youth and Family Matters.”

The four areas are Netley View in Hythe; Milton Mead in New Milton; Heather Road and Blackfield Road in Fawley; and Howards Mead and Efford Way in Pennington.

Two locations within the wards of Butts Ash and Dibden Purlieu (Netley View) and Pennington (Howards Mead) are also in the top 20% in terms of income deprivation specifically affecting children.

Efford Way in Pennington has been highlighted as being in the top 20% of England for income deprivation
Efford Way in Pennington has been highlighted as being in the top 20% of England for income deprivation

Cllr Heron went on to claim NFDC was “working well in advance of the Liberal Democrats’ grandstanding”.

He added: “We are looking to move forward working with our partners to make a real difference to the people of the New Forest.”

But Cllr Davies rejected claims that NFDC was doing enough. He declared: “You’re hiding behind organisations that do a fantastic job in our district. You’re not leading; you’re following.

“This is a plan, an actual strategy, where we can sit down and talk about a long-term solution – not just fight the symptoms of poverty, but fight the root causes as well.

“This council, I think, has shown that it really doesn’t care about tackling poverty properly. It’s all words and there’s no action.”

The vote split down party lines with the Lib Dems outvoted by the Conservatives.

Cllr Davies’ motion highlighted the cost of living crisis and warned it could push more local households into poverty. It said the issue was having a “disproportionate effect on people in the most deprived neighbourhoods”.

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