Community leaders have leapt to the defence of a Mansfield neighbourhood which was named among the most deprived in the country.
Focussing on levels of income and benefit among other issues, a Government survey placed the Sandy Lane area of the town as the 16th worst in the country.
Mansfield District Council’s ward councillor for the Newgate area of Mansfield, Andy Sissons, has been quick to defend the area.
He said: “A Government survey may have put Sandy Lane 16th on a list of deprived areas but this doesn’t mean that it’s an area of bad people.
“I am out in this community every day, it is very much a village atmosphere and people always turn out to help out and take part in community events like the family fun days on nearby Carr Bank Park and Fisher Lane Park.
“The vast majority are good people just trying to bring up their children the best they can.
“Yes, it is an area of above-average unemployment and people living on benefits but this is not necessarily by choice.
“Improving the area is an ongoing priority and is helped by partnership working with local councillors, Stuart Wallace, and myself along with neighbourhood wardens, local housing officers and most importantly the residents themselves, who all strive to make the area better.
“We put people before statistics.”
Meanwhile, Coun Stuart Wallace, whose ward also covers a section of Sandy Lane, was quick to respond to the controversial data.
He said: “It saddens me to often read Government surveys that are often sweeping, scathing and wrong.
“I have lived in this area for 20 years living on Hibbert Road for the past eight.
“I can honestly say I’ve seen the levels of anti social behaviour fall.
“Some long term unemployed friends back into work and many people taking a great pride in their home.
“I’m not living in a bubble there are problems and work to be done and with our fantastic community spirit I’m sure further improvement can be achieved.”
A total of 32,844 neighbourhoods were scored across England for the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) study, which was published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Tendring, in Clacton-on-Sea was named the most deprived area in England.
Areas of Blackpool occupied five of the top 10, places with the only other areas of the midlands to be named being Coventry and Grimsby.
Throughout the study, Neighbourhoods are scored according to seven key areas – income, employment, education, health, crime, barriers to housing and services and living environment.
Overall, Mansfield was named as the 59th most deprived local authority area in England, out of 326.
Overall, the highest proportion of deprivation was found in northern towns and cities, including Middlesbrough, Hull and Liverpool.
But Mansfield was also named the sixth most-improved local authority area, with its 59th place ranking an improvement on the IMD stats first published in 2000, when the town came in at 36th.
Mayor of Mansfield, Kate Allsop, was pleased with the progress. She said: “This huge improvement is testament to the hard work that the council and our partners have done in recent years and continue to do to ensure we keep improving the lives of those in our communities.”