Millions of households across the country are being deprived of a post office, primary school, shop or GP surgery, according to a new report. A major academic survey by Oxford University has shown the parts of the country which are most ‘geographically deprived’ because essential services are far away from them.
Conservative analysis has highlighted the areas of the country hardest hit by the disappearance of local services in the last four years – based on the report’s measure for access to local services. This measure reflects the distance to the nearest GP surgery, convenience store or supermarket, primary school and post office.
· 45 per cent of neighbourhoods across England have deteriorated markedly a result of the loss of community services during the last 4 years.
Many communities will be even worse of as a result of Government policies, through:
· The closure of 2,500 post offices in a Government programme of massive cuts.
· The knock-on effect on local shops of post office closures; it is estimated that 1,000 shops which double up as post offices will close if their post office business is axed.
· The closure of hundreds of primary schools, especially in rural areas; Whitehall is threatening to withhold money for councils which do not close schools and remove so-called ‘surplus places’.
· The closure of local GP surgeries under Government plans for new ‘polyclinics’.
These worrying facts about community deprivation come as a Conservative commission, set up by David Cameron, has called for more to be done to protect small shops. It has slammed Government proposals to weaken planning rules which currently control out-of-town retail development. If the rules are relaxed, the hearts of villages and towns centres could be ripped out by a new wave of out-of-town hypermarkets.
Giles McNeill, Conservative Candidate for West Lindsey District Council, said:
“Under Labour, local neighbourhoods and villages are losing access to essential local services, as shops, pubs and schools close. Thanks to Government policies cooked up in Whitehall, more local post offices, schools and GP surgeries now face shutting their doors.
“This is yet another sign that Labour politicians have lost touch with local people, and that Gordon Brown and his Whitehall bureaucrats are ignoring the needs of West Lindsey.”