‘We have plenty’: community spaces study is disputed in Yarmouth North

w ^ith its sand dunes and sprawling beach, the ward of Yarmouth North in Great Yarmouth does not at first glance appear to be somewhere that fits the tag of “left behind neighbourhood” it has been given in a study into England’s poorest areas.

The analysis conducted by Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion of public assets in the worst-off council wards found that left behind neighbourhoods on average have a disproportionate lack of social infrastructure in comparison to the national average.

They are defined by a significant lack of community and cultural spaces available to local residents, but not all those living in the area recognise the description.

大卫, 谁是 79 and retired, said he did not view the area as having a severe lack of community spaces. “We’ve got the whole of the beach, the whole seafront,“ 他说. “We have plenty of community spaces, I would say. It doesn’t feel like we are lacking anything at all.”

He added that as well as visiting the beach often, the area also had a recreational ground regularly used by residents. “I really don’t think there’s a shortage of places. 实际上, we’re better off here than the smaller villages north to us.”

This sentiment is shared by Mark Allen, who has been running Munchies cafe on the seafront of the Norfolk seaside town for nine years. “I don’t think we are lacking in community spaces, I actually think that areas like this are lovely and have a nice local community feeling to it. I wouldn’t say there’s a noticeable lack of community spaces.”

He said many of the natural attractions, such as the beach, served the community just as well as any intentionally built space. “With all the open space we have on the seafront, people would tend to use that even if we had more green or community spaces here,“ 他说. “The locals are much happier on the dunes and on the beach. So no, I don’t think we’re missing out at all.”

One of the main community spaces in Yarmouth North is the Waterways, an attraction including wildlife gardens and a boating lake for residents and tourists. Built in the early 20th century, 在 2018 it received a national lottery grant of £1.7m to improve and restore the space. Access Community Trust, a charity promoting social inclusion among residents, runs the Island Boating Lake cafe on the Waterways which provides employment and volunteering opportunities for young people.

Kyra Drake, 25, who has been working for the charity and cafe for two years, recognises that although the cafe has a role as a community hub for locals, the area would benefit from an increase in development and funding for community spaces.

“I’d like to see more supported community spaces for LGBT people and other minorities in particular,“ 她说. I think it’s really important that more community spaces like that exist in Yarmouth North, and we don’t have anything of the sort currently.”

Trevor Wainwright, the leader of the Labour group at Great Yarmouth borough council, said that although he understood why Yarmouth North had been identified by the analysis, it did not necessarily reflect the area’s deprivation.

“Although there are pockets of deprivation in Yarmouth North, there’s also affluence in the area. A lack of community spaces isn’t necessarily due to deprivation, but rather that most of the community spaces and centres happen to be located in the centre of the town.

“I can understand why [the area] has been flagged up, but to be honest it’s never come up as an issue.”