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Addressing Deprivation in Bodmin: a report from Bodmin Town Council

Key findings:

  • Like other towns in the UK, Bodmin suffers from the broad effects of deprivation.
  • The town experiences low-income levels, low employment levels and elevated levels of poor health, disability and homelessness.
  • The Town Council's plan to revitalise the town aims to place innovation and community at the heart of future developments. 

Like other towns in the UK, Bodmin suffers from the broad effects of deprivation. There is nothing unusual about the varied problems faced in Bodmin given the overall high deprivation levels in this and other parts of the County. Recent basic surveys from the (Neighbourhood Development Plan and Charrette 2022) revealed problems including low-income levels, low employment, poor higher education opportunities, low levels of skills and training, elevated levels of poor health, disability, and homelessness in Bodmin Town, which continues to be within the top seventeen of the 10% most deprived areas in Cornwall (Bodmin Economic Profile 2021).

The surveys for both the NDP and Charrette projects provided basic information from which themes were developed to scope interventions for tackling the problems, however, the surveys were not designed to explore these specific issues.

Broad problems related to deprivation are the main concerns for Bodmin Town Council, for which it remains focused on finding sustainable solutions to the varied problems. Cornwall has for years tackled issues related to poverty, research by (Townsend 1997, Lee et al 1995 and Gordon and Henson 1995) revealed that the broadening effects of widespread deprivation on inner Cornish Towns without sustainable solutions only serve to undermine efforts to reduce the impact of the related problems.

One main effect in Bodmin is the impact of antisocial behaviour, feared the problem will stigmatise the area as a ‘no go places’ at night bringing about Social and moral decline and detrimental effect on the night-time economy. This is a common factor (ICPR, JRF 2005) where there are complex interactions of social and economic policy, this in turn being the creator of disparity between favoured investment in certain parts of the County of Cornwall over others. However, to clarify this point, Bodmin is far from a ‘no go area’ despite the fear of it, but it does suffer from the effects of low investment.

According to (Safer Bodmin Town Profile 2021) there is no real evidence to argue significant increases in ASB since 2021, where statistics suggest that antisocial behaviour has reduced by 23% including a drop by16% in street drinking/ begging and drug litter, however, crime in the Town Centre is high where drug use is higher than other areas, often exacerbated by alcohol abuse both intrinsically linked to the broader effects of deprivation.

Bodmin is in the middle of developing a Town Revitalization action plan, where innovation is key to delivering sustainable approaches to reducing the impact of the problems, coordination between adopting proven methods and models has all too often been undervalued. The apparent need to reinvent the wheel has overwhelming consequences, an argument already shared between Mary Portas and Bill Grimsby.

There are gaps in research as to how the first tier of Local Government can do better towards developing policy intervention that support social inclusion and prosperity, this could be achieved by modernisation of local government including the development of local democracy to resolve the many pressing problems we face such as unemployment.

We should broaden the base for partnerships by allowing neighbourhoods to oversee services. Encourage capacity building, renew policy to generate investment in the infrastructure and mainstream services, target resources and policy which provide alternative community enterprises by securing funding. Also, there is need to remove barriers that prevent community involvement and engagement.

A Community development framework, such as the one adopted by Bodmin Town Council, supports trust and networking opportunities. The research gap remains where further examination of how more powers could be extended to Town and Parish Councils beyond the Localism Act (2011), examining how the top down can integrate with bottom-up tiers via coherent national policy and regional delivery framework systematic empowerment of neighbourhoods and local tier government modernisation.