Shocking figures which spotlight high levels of unemployment and multiple deprivation in Midhurst’s biggest housing estate have been revealed.
Now Gordon McAra, Midhurst’s independent district councillor, says urgent action should be taken to improve the situation on the Holmbush Estate.
He is convinced the key lies in the development of two large areas of industrial land at Midhurst to provide much needed jobs.
Chichester District Council released the latest data for each of the 72 wards across its area.
The collated figures show the Holmbush estate as having the sixth-highest level of multiple deprivation – which includes income, employment and health deprivation, education skills and training, crime and living environment – across the 72 wards of the district.
The figures also reveal Holmbush has the 14th-highest level of unemployment.
“We could and should be trying to get more involved to make people’s lives a bit better. This really is something you can’t ignore and shouldn’t ignore,” he said, adding that the figures flew in the face of the general perception of Midhurst as an affluent area of West Sussex.
“This idea of pastoral rural Sussex doesn’t work.
“If you think about Midhurst compared with for instance South London, the kids here go through a good education they couldn’t get in other parts of the country.
“It isn’t education that’s holding them back, it’s the lack of employment.
“We need a range of employment opportunities in the town so people can become more mobile, more confident and think of buying their own houses.”
Mr McAra has enlisted the support of Chichester District Council to push forward plans to develop the West Sussex County Council-owned Highways site in Bepton Road and the former brickworks land behind it owned by the Cowdray Estate.
“We need to get them opened up as quickly as possible,” he said.
He accused West Sussex County Council of ‘bed blocking’ because he said they had delayed its development as employment land in the hope of getting more money for it as housing land.
“They want as much money as possible for the Bepton Road site and we have already had one application for housing there, which has been rejected because it’s industrial land.”
He said the district council was now committed to working urgently with the South Downs National Park, the county council and the Cowdray Estate to providing more employment.