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East-West divide deepens as Walsall sinks deeper into bottom 10% of UK deprivation

by Ian Shires on 25 November, 2021

I picked up the following article by Gurdip Thandi on Birmingham Live 24 November 2021.

Grim statistics show levels of child poverty across Walsall

18h ago

Pelsall, Bloxwich, Leamore, Short Heath, Willenhall, Pleck, Birchills, Blakenall, Bentley
It makes grim reading. Walsall  is ranked the 25th most poorest out of 317 local authorities – placing it in the 10 per cent most deprived districts in the country. And the issue is getting worse as the borough was placed 33rd in 2015, 30th in 2010 and 45th in 2007.

During our time in control of Walsall Council (Lib Dem/Labour Coalition) between May 2016 and April 2018, we pursued a policy of channelling what funding the Council had into the areas of deprivation outlined in Gurdip Thandi’s article, which includes many areas of Willenhall and Short Heath.

Sadly, when we were ousted by the Tories at the local elections in May 2018, any benefits from the work we had done were quickly reversed when the new Tory administration rescinded our Budget Strategy. This has been made worse during the ongoing COVID Pandemic.

Those areas to the East of the Borough have faired far better than the rest of us. Now there is an eerie silence from the Tories about the future of their Resilient Communities model as rumours abound about possible outsourcing to the Voluntary Sector in order to cut back the cost of funding this vital work.




4 Responses

  1. Andy Boys says:

    ‘Grim reading’ indeed! Especially if read alongside the ‘Jobs & Skills’ report to another council committee. I was surprised that neither committee published figures produced by the Social Mobility Commission. Again, Walsall is amongst the lowest in England.
    As a councillor you were pretty much on your own flagging up the Marmot principles to underpin hyper-local actions and spend in our most disadvantaged wards.
    Whatever ‘promise’ the so-called Tory ‘Resilient Communities Model’ [RCM] might have held is evaporating into thin air! Carving up the borough into four, North, South, East and West and still no evidence about what RCM will actually deliver on the ground isn’t good enough. Bigging up RCM as something that other councils will learn from is a travesty of the facts. Commissioning a ‘duff’ report – vanity publishing – doesn’t hold a candle to what serious councils are doing elsewhere.
    Instead of chucking £10m at bean counters Price Waterhouse Coopers in a yet to deliver (redundancies) Walsall Proud Programme Its time to learn lessons about Community Wealth Building in Preston, Wigan, Luton, Newham …….
    I’m up for a pint Ian! Not to drown sorrows about how Walsall Tory Council is failing the most vulnerable but working together and with others and build a coalition about what genuinely needs to be done in Walsall.
    Kind regards
    Andy Boys

    • Ian Shires says:

      It’s surprising just how quickly the Tories have set about unpicking Marmot. Not only that, no one has challenged them. It was written into the statutes and I can see nowhere where they have taken it to Council to repeal it. Every report has a tick box which is specifically for checking it off against the Marmot Objectives. This no longer seems to be the case. Sure they will point to the tick box of equality, it’s not the same, it covers a multitude of issues. Marmot is specific, it allows the budget to be skewed towards areas of deprivation. As for their RCM, that is being shifted to the third sector to pick up on a much reduced budget over the next 3 to 4 years. How that’s going to work God only knows. One Walsall was supposed to be the driving force behind delivering RCM, it still has no Chief Executive.
      Happy to discuss further over a pint, but before I do would like to understand a little about working together and forming a coalition first.

  2. Andy Boys says:

    One Walsall did have a CEO who left dispirited and demoralised (do I have to Declare an Interest?). Comes as no surprise his successor lasted 12 months (?) and it doesn’t look particularly attractive to a newcomer. Have a view on this but best left until we meet over a pint.
    Lack of informed ‘opposition’ in the council chimes with me but commenting in detail here might get me chucked out of the Labour Party (oooh!)
    Idea of a coalition of people, inside and outside of party loyalties, who are capable of thinking outside the box. Tried it in my party, called Why Not in Walsall (WNiW) Appreciating that there are councils in the realms of Community Wealth Building and Community Engagement, not dissimilar in indices of multiple deprivation, that we can learn from.
    No details here,only to say initial enthusiasm fizzled out!
    Walsall’s most vulnerable communities, who have given up voting, might one day end up begging politicians for salvation!
    Here’s to a pint or two?
    Kind regards

    • Ian Shires says:

      I think you are right, time to meet up. Tuesdays and Thursdays around 12.15pm are usually good for me. Bit short notice for anything this week. How are you fixed for next Tuesday (14th Dec) in the back room of The Duke?

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