Motion asking Sandwell Council to invest in Tipton approved

An amended motion to ask the council to continue to invest in Tipton was approved this week.

Sandwell Council House
Sandwell Council House

It comes as several levelling up fund bids have been approved this year – the majority of which are in West Bromwich. According to the Multiple Level of Deprivation Index, West Bromwich, with a population of 80,000, has a child poverty rate of 28 per cent, whereas Tipton, with a population of over 40,000, has a child poverty rate of 35 per cent.

22 per cent of households in West Bromwich are living with deprived incomes, while the number increases to 28 per cent in Tipton.

Councillor Archer Williams, who proposed the original motion, said: “I am aware that Tipton is not the only deprived area in Sandwell. There are several awards throughout Sandwell that would benefit from an injection of funds. Some wards have suffered deprivation for many years.

“I believe that, as a council, it is our responsibility to acknowledge this fact. We can choose to ignore this or we can react and take the bull by the horns. I believe that there is some truth to the broken window theory that suggests that each problem that goes unattended in a given environment affects the attitude towards that environment and leads to more problems.

“I’m calling on the council to explore options and resources to create a new programme that will turn its focus towards wards with the highest levels of deprivation in someone and I’m asking for the support of all my colleagues in this chamber to initiate this project.”

Councillor Williams claimed Sandwell council’s own internal funding streams, such community chests and local area budgets, could be used to improve infrastructure in the borough.

Councillor Bob Piper, the deputy leader, put forward an amended motion claiming Sandwell council continues to support investment across Tipton, in support of the Labour-led local authority.

He said: “The council approved the company has approved a £1.8 billion investment across the border in infrastructure over the next five years in transport, housing, employment skills, education, heritage and clean energy.

“We have the best community leisure facilities in the United Kingdom in the Sandwell aquatics centre, and believe it, a bit like the Tipton leisure centre, it’s accessible to people across the borough.”

Councillior Piper cited investment such as 195 new council homes being built in Sandwell, £100 million to create two new secondary schools, and £15 million to invest sprinklers in all high rise blocks in the borough.

He concluded that it was “beauty competitions” to secure funding that were the main issue. “One of the problems over the last 15 years or so, is that funding to local authorities comes down by way of beauty competitions where you have to bid for money you’ve got, rather than the money being given to local authorities were elected members know where the money is spent.

“We end up with a bidding process, which people from outside of the local authority have a say and we end up with some of the inequalities that councillor Williams was referring to earlier.”

Councillor Jones, who was elected back into Sandwell council after a hiatus in local politics, said : “We’ve got four bedroom detached houses delivered by councillor Carmichael [Leader of Sandwell council] there. We’ve had Walker Grange care home, which is never going to close. We’ve got the libraries, the sure start centres, we’ve got the sports academy which is still open and thriving.

“It’s taken 10 years to detangle Section 106 money to sort Laybourne Park, which is  having over 100,000 pounds worth of work. My constituents, which are the same constituency, do talk about deprivation.

“They talk about all the types of deprivation including the cost of living. The cost of petrol, the cost of gas, the cost of food, the cost of getting to work, the cost of being in work, poverty, going to work and not actually having enough money to actually cook the food which the can’t afford.

“The only solution for that is to ask councillor Williams to ask his Conservative MP to ask his conservative government to incite openness and give some direct help to people who cannot afford to eat.

“[Constituents] not particularly bothered about infrastructure, they’re bothered about being able to feed their children. So and the only solution for that type of deprivation is allow for a Labour government.”

The amended motion was carried.

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