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Jobs and health highlighted in shock coalfield report

Published: 31 Jul 2014 09:30

COALFIELD areas are a crumbling mess and lagging behind the rest of the UK, a shock report has revealed.

Former mining towns and villages - like Cumnock and others in East Ayrshire - were featured in a study entitled 'The State of the Coalfields’.

Prepared by Sheffield Hallam University, the report confirms that while there is evidence in some areas of re-generation, particularly in the years before the recession, but deprivation, ill health and unemployment continue to blight the UK’s coalfield communities a quarter of a century after the devastating collapse of the mining industry.

Ayrshire was grouped together alongside Lanarkshire and didn’t fare favourably when compared to other non-coalfields across Britain.

Ill health is higher than the national average with 6.9 per cent of the area’s population suffering compared to the mean of 5.6.

The job density in every single coalfield is below the national average. The job density in every coalfield is also below the average for its region.

In Scotland, the employment rate in the Fife and Ayrshire/Lanarkshire coalfields is around three percentage points below the Scottish average. A higher employment rate in the Lothian coalfield reflects the proximity of job opportunities in Edinburgh.

The new report provides detailed figures for each of the 16 individual coalfield areas across England, Scotland and Wales.

Local MP Cathy Jamieson said: “This new research shows there are issues that need addressing.

“They need help with a number of things including access to education and help with health concerns.

“While I recognise that there have been improvements and things have been done we don’t want the battle to help the coalfields to fall off the agenda.

“I stood at PMQs last week in the hope of catching the Speaker’s eye to ask the PM about the report and press the Government also to act on the current issues relating to former open cast sites. Unfortunately, I was not called on this occasion, but will try again, and table written questions.”

Professor Steve Fothergill from the University’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, who led the research, said: “The miners’ strike of 1984/85 may now be receding into history but the job losses that followed in its wake are still part of the everyday economic reality of most mining communities. The consequences are still all too visible in statistics on jobs, unemployment, welfare benefits and health. The evidence provides a compelling case that most of the coalfield communities of England, Scotland and Wales still require support.”

The report is available at http://www.shu.ac.uk/mediacentre/state-coalfields-new-research

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