Warwickshire’s ‘levelling up’ agenda aims to help hard-up areas in Leamington
Warwickshire’s ‘levelling up’ agenda has been welcomed by some councillors - but not by others who are worried that hard-up areas in Leamington could be overlooked.
A Warwickshire County Council plan approved in February included a levelling up commitment which followed a Government White Paper and councillors were updated on progress at last week’s meeting of the resources and fire & rescue overview and scrutiny committee.
Rob Powell, the council’s strategic director for resources, explained work would be targeted on places and communities that most needed support to bring about long-term improvements.
Cllr Caroline Phillips (Lab, Nuneaton Abbey) said: “I do welcome this, it’s brilliant and what we’ve all known was needed for a long time.
“Pride in the area and belonging is a big issue for central Nuneaton. There are a lot of old terraced streets and they are in a really poor state. A lot of the drains are broken, the pavements are awful, the roads are like patchwork quilts when they really need resurfacing, and the lampposts are horrible.
“It is very difficult to have pride and belonging when you look out your door and you live in a really shabby street because it has not been properly looked after. I don’t know why but hopefully that will gradually change now,
“It is a very high drug affected area where we have a revolving door - people go to prison and when they get out they have no money and nowhere to live so they start selling drugs again. For a long time now we have churned out low achievement and low expectations. It is just a downward spiral at the minute.”
Mr Powell replied: “Cllr Phillips has put her finger on some of the long-standing interactable challenges that we are going to have to do something different to address with partners. A number of the points raised will require us to work with the borough council, the police, the NHS and lots of other partners to address some of those challenges which are very long-standing."
But Cllr Sarah Boad (Lib Dem, Leamington North) was unconvinced. She told the meeting: “Forgive my cynicism but is this really going to make a difference in Warwickshire? I have to say, I doubt it.
"I just wonder what this plan is actually going to do for people in communities like mine where they live very hard lives and their life is getting harder and harder because of the rise in fuel costs, the rise in food costs and the disgraceful state of the bus service.”