David Winnick says substantial regeneration work in Blakenall and surrounding areas was carried out a few years ago as a result of Labour’s New Deal, and Roy Boffy calls for massive investment in productive industries
Giles Fraser (Loose canon, 13 October) refers to the deprivation he found in parts of Blakenall, Walsall, where some time ago he was temporarily a priest. It is indeed the case that far too many try to manage on a totally inadequate income. As for people spending all day in their dressing gowns, which he mentions, I would simply point out that when unemployment was even higher there than nationally in the Thatcher years, whenever job vacancies were advertised locally the numbers who applied were far in excess of those needed. Substantial regeneration work in Blakenall and the surrounding areas was carried out a few years ago as a result of Labour’s New Deal for Communities programme.
As for the present, a Church of England primary school within walking distance of Blakenall was the subject of a Commons debate I initiated in April last year. The school, built in 1862, is damp throughout, full of holes and in some classrooms it is not possible to even open the windows. When the schools minister visited the school, at my invitation, he was heard by local reporters to say “Awful, awful”. Yet once again an application for substantial work to be undertaken has been turned down by the Education Funding Agency.