A REPORT quantifying town centre dereliction, social and economic need in Dromore has been presented to Banbridge District Council.
The council commissioned the study, by Straightforward Research and Development, to analyse social and economic need and audit town centre dereliction in the Dromore, Gilford and Rathfriland areas.
While The Leader has not yet seen the resulting report, its findings are understood to include increased deprivation in Dromore North from 2005-2010 and a decrease in female life expectancy in Dromore South.
The report’s authors also conclude that people travelling to work in Belfast and shopping mostly in the city or shopping centres could be a major contributing factor to the level of vacancies and dereliction in Dromore.
Straightforward Research and Development’s Mr Seamus Mullen attended a recent meeting of the council’s Leisure and Development Committee to present the findings of their research into social and economic needs.
There, the council’s Community and Enterprise Director, Catriona Regan, explained the detailed study, to highlight pockets of deprivation in Dromore, Gilford and Rathfriland, had been commissioned so that funding could be accessed, as the Department for Social Development’s current criteria took into account the whole district, resulting in Banbridge District missing out on vital funding.
In response to Councillor Herron’s concern that highlighting areas of deprivation could have a negative impact on property prices, council chief executive Liam Hannaway again stressed the study was felt necessary to ensure support for the deprived areas identified.
Multiple deprivation he said, was the scoring mechanism used by the government, and it impacted the level of general grant received towards rates in the district.
As Banbridge was ranked highly, he explained, it was considered necessary to highlight the pockets of deprivation in Dromore, Gilford and Rathfriland to ensure support for those areas from Central Government.
In the course of discussion at the committee meeting it was confirmed that families living on income less than 60% of the Northern Ireland average would be classified as living in deprivation; that a distorted picture was given where deprived areas were surrounded by more affluent areas; that tatistics should take into account old age pensioners; that deprivation was a contributing factor in high levels of disease and that once qualifications had been obtained, young people moved away from a particular area so that area did not improve.
In response to Councillor Seamus Doyle, Catriona Regan said the Department for Social Development was aware the research was being carried out’.
The information, she said, would be sent to Central Government.