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Saturday, 19 July 2008

Come clean on Nottingham deprivation

It is disappointing the local authorities are reluctant to release reports into deprivation in Nottingham.
In the latest instance, Nottingham City Council and Nottingham City Primary Care Trust refused to hand over the full study into high and persistent teenage pregnancy rates.

This is ironic, since one of the recommendations in the report was to use the local media to highlight the problem.

There have been other examples. The city council has also refused to release consultants reports into deprivation and One Nottingham declined to hand over a study into child poverty.

A further report looking at the pitifully low numbers of pupils in Nottingham North to go on to study in higher education did emerge 18 months ago, but city councillors and officers were furious that it saw the light of day.

What underlies the reluctance to publish reports appears to be a belief that publicity is in some way "unhelpful" to efforts to tackle these deep rooted problems.

It is argued that publicity can be damaging to the morale of those working hard to make a difference.

In addition, the city council and its partners often claim to have settled upon a solution for whatever problem is in the spotlight.

The message seems to be "we can sort it if you would just let us get on with it".
But the fact is the authorities have by and large been left to get on with it and they have not "sorted it".

For example, some secondary schools in Nottingham still don’t have policies in place to direct sex education despite the city pushing for the top spot in the teenage pregnancy league for a decade.
So, external scrutiny is important.

Furthermore, it is vital that city residents understand what is going on. Deprivation, teenage pregnancy, unemployment, ill health, child poverty, and limited opportunities and life chances may seem normal to some people in the city.

It is important they are told it isn’t. Most people in Britain have and expect more.

Deprivation in Nottingham will only be tackled if those affected by it are pushing for a better life.
It is hard to see how that will happen if they are never told the truth of their current situation.

Charles Walker
Political Editor

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