Committee told there is still too much poverty in Bognor

DEPRIVATION is still too severe in areas of Bognor Regis, councillors have warned.

The town has locations where many residents are below the poverty line, they said.

Cllr Roger Nash (L, Pevensey) said the ward he represented was among the most deprived in much of England.

“Pevensey has 35 per cent of young people living in relative poverty. That’s a continuing problem,” he told Arun District Council’s overview select committee last week.

He stated that West Meads Drive was a dividing line between those to the west who survived to a normal life expectancy and those to the east who could expect to die eight or nine years earlier

“That statistic has not changed for a long, long time,” he said. “That’s the problem.

“I know it can sometimes be difficult with hard-to-reach groups but we don’t seem to be making any difference to that awful statistic.”

Cllr Nash’s comments came as the committee reviewed the progress of the Arun Wellbeing scheme which it runs for West Sussex County Council.

Sally Tabner, the county council’s prevention and well-being co-ordinator, said: “We are not going to see the benefits of people giving up smoking or starting to lose weight or having the opportunity of physical activity straight away. They may not be felt for possibly 10-15 years.”

Arun has received £418,300 a year in each of the first two years of the programme. The funding for the next year from 2015 is not yet known.

Arun Wellbeing runs advice sessions and courses to persuade people to slim, stop smoking and start exercising.

This can take the form of health MoTs and ongoing support. About 150 clients are seen each month.

In Bognor, it is based next to the town hall. Activities are also held in outlying areas. Village focus sessions are due to take place in Barnham and Walberton after being held in Slindon and Pagham.

The committee’s members all agreed Arun should continue its public health links with the county council.They also want their officers to work with the county council to finalise future funds.

Cllr Phil Hitchins (C, Aldwick W) called for more action for people who needed the most help.

“You have got to sit down with down, show them what they have got to do and support them through it,” he said.

Cllr David Edwards (C, Hotham) said many poor health choices resulted from apathy. He said: “People will also find an excuse to do something next time.”