Ripon Minster ward made a ‘priority area’

Anti-social behaviour has been highlighted as a problem in Ripon Minster ward. PHOTO POSED BY STUDENTS Picture: Adrian Murray
Anti-social behaviour has been highlighted as a problem in Ripon Minster ward. PHOTO POSED BY STUDENTS Picture: Adrian Murray

A report has designated Ripon Minster ward as a “priority” area, with anti-social behaviour, low life-expectancy and low income families highlighted as key issues.

The report – released by Harrogate Borough Council as part of its My Neighbourhood project to tackle more deprived areas in the district – found during one month cases of anti-social behaviour in the Ripon Minster ward were nearly 50 per cent higher than the average across the Harrogate district.

“We don’t really know what exactly causes anti-social behaviour, but the My Neighbourhood project is all about trying to address these issues,” Ripon Minster ward’s Coun Stuart Martin told the Gazette.

“We don’t want to see people struggling.”

The report found 8.32 reported cases of anti-social behaviour per 1,000 of the population in the city in August 2012, while the district average was 3.7 per 1,000 of the population.

The other major issues affecting the Ripon Minster area are evening alcohol use around housing estates and low education and skills attainment.

The growth of anti-social behaviour in the ward has seen incidents involving “young people loitering around town and incidents centred around local authority flats in the city centre,” the report said.

The ward had the largest increase in anti-social behaviour in the Harrogate district in 2011, the report showed.

“It’s a downward spiral,” said Coun Martin.

“Because rates of low incomes are rising people are not living as healthy lifestyles as they should, with drinking abuse and addiction also causing problems.”

The report also identified that more work needed to be done to improve neighbourhood engagement and participation.

A number of initiatives have been launched to try and tackle the issues exposed in the report, published in November last year, including a £500 citizenship event at Ripon’s museums aimed at boosting community engagement through historical activities at the Victorian Workhouse.

The project involved 306 Ripon residents of various ages, including 218 visitors from Ripon Minster ward.

Other initiatives launched by the borough council to help tackle social problems in the ward include an alcohol respect campaign, a Social Eat time project to promote healthy eating on a budget and informal police and housing surgeries.

A new scheme to boost business on Kirkgate, called Enfranchise Kirkgate, was also set up. But a plan to pedestrianise the area with tables and chairs spread onto the pavement was rejected after it failed to rally the full support of businesses and residents along the street.

The total expenditure for the My Neighbourhood project was £899.46, with Ripon Minster getting the largest chunk of funding out of the three priority wards identified, including Woodfield in Harrogate and Pateley Bridge.

An End Child Poverty report published last week revealed that Ripon Minster ward has one of the highest levels of child poverty in the district, with child poverty rates four percentage points higher in the ward than the Harrogate district average. The End Child Poverty campaign involves a coalition of more than 100 charities, breaking down areas of child poverty in the UK by local authority.

One in ten children in Ripon Minster ward are living in child poverty according to the report – nearly double the average rate across the Harrogate district, which stands at six per cent.

Across the Harrogate district, 18 wards have child poverty rates of less than five per cent.

Coun Martin stressed the importance of services such as the Ripon food bank to help households on low incomes in Minster ward.

“Because Ripon is considered an OK area it is often over-looked by central Government when it comes to funding,” he said.

lChild poverty figures in the Ripon area, according to the End Child Poverty report 2013, are: Ripon Minster –10 per cent; Ripon Moorside – 10 per cent; Ripon Spa – Below five per cent; Mashamshire: – five per cent; Kirkby Malzeard –Below five per cent; Boroughbridge –Seven per cent; Bishop Monkton –Below five percent; Ouseburn – Below five per cent; Wathvale – Below five per cent. (Harrogate district average –six per cent.)