Poverty? Really?

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East Chichester is in many ways a very good place to live with a lot to celebrate so I thought the article last week about its ‘poverty’ and ‘deprivation’ a bit misleading.

The ward is not some industrial slum but situated between the Goodwood countryside and the historic city – they can both be reached on foot in just a few minutes.

East ward has excellent shopping at Portfield, including the new John Lewis.

It boasts some fine community centres, not least New Park, currently hosting the 21st Chichester Film Festival.

The Chichester Festival is the third in the country after London and Cambridge.

Florence Park has just been upgraded and now has a really good children’s play area. Chichester Nursery School in St James’s Road has an outstanding reputation.

And there is some very good social housing some of which has been sold and is now owner-occupied.

Statistics can be misleading: for example the East ward is classed as medically deprived because it doesn’t have a single hospital or doctor’s surgery.

This might have indicated a problem years ago when doctors were one-man-bands but recently they have formed big group practices – and in Chichester the big group practices happen to be in adjoining wards.

It might be a problem if it took hours to travel to the next ward – but most East ward residents can get to a surgery in minutes.

It’s the same with St Richard’s Hospital, technically in North ward but right on the ward boundary and just as convenient for people living in East ward as those living in the north.

There are some ‘problems’, it is true – more young single unemployed people live in the East than the North, some with children.

There is more need for social housing and the council has to plan for this and for the needs of the people who live in it.

But make no mistake, the East ward has a lot to celebrate.

The Observer reporter who wrote the story says although she’s read the statistics, she admits she doesn’t know the ward personally.

I have been in touch and shortly I am going to show her around so she can see for herself.

Michael Woolley

East Ward city and district councillor, Baffins Lane, Chichester