A BOURNEMOUTH estate is one of the most deprived areas in England with 37 per cent of cash-strapped residents living below the poverty line.

That’s the stark conclusion of a major new study, which is calling for investment to tackle unemployment on West Howe and fund a much-needed community centre.

The estate is blighted by high levels of long-term sickness and unscrupulous lenders targeting already struggling families on their own doorstep. Just six out of ten adults have a qualification of any kind.

But, despite the deprivation, 71 per cent of residents are satisfied with their lives.

Police, health workers, schools, community organisations, residents and the local authority took part in the Strategic Assessment, commissioned by the Bourne-mouth 2026 Trust.

Jane Portman, chairman of We st Howe Regeneration Partnership and a council executive director, said investment in the estate was sorely needed.

She paid tribute to the ‘great tide of volunteers’ working to make life better on the estate and added: “Community spirit is much higher than in most other areas and perceptions from outside the estate don’t match the reality.”

Debbie Clifton from the Bournemouth 2026 Trust said: “This complete audit of West Howe gives us a very clear picture of the issues and enables us to help plan its future.

“We hope it will help us attract funding for improvements. Bournemouth council has already committed £35,000 to get the project running and the trust will consider releasing funding for initiatives, which are supported by the West Howe Regeneration Partnership.”

People in Boscombe are worse off

WHILE West Howe is among the most deprived areas in England, poverty levels in another pocket of Bournemouth are much worse.

According to national figures, Boscombe Central is officially the most deprived area in the South West region.

The ward is also the 113th most deprived area in the country.

Just weeks ago it was announced that a park, in the middle of the ward, was about to undergo a £22,500 facelift.

Churchill Gardens park will benefit from new play equipment, picnic facilities and planting as the council seeks to clean-up the area.

An action plan for the area has been drawn up.

It includes more inspections of privately-rented accommodation, conversion of 76 bedsits into self-contained flats, trying to increase the number of owner-occupiers, as well as re-housing families who are living in overcrowded accommodation.

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