Affluent parts of Swansea suffer ‘poverty’ because of the size of their mortgages claims councillor
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
A Swansea councillor has claimed that affluent parts of the city suffer from poverty because property owners have big mortgages.
Cllr Lyndon Jones said poverty existed in all parts of the county, including in his own Gower ward of Bishopston where some residents’ mortgages were “so massive” they had little to left to spend.
Average house prices in Bishopston are £362,496, according to the property website Zoopla, nearly double the £198,479 Swansea average.
Lyndon Jones was speaking at a committee meeting in which a draft policy that would prioritise deprived areas for environmental funding was being discussed.
“In my own ward, Bishopston, a lot of people are asset-rich but cash-poor,” the Conservative councillor, said.
“A lot of people who have got children in the comprehensive school – their mortgages are so massive that they have got very little cash left to spend, so you get poverty in all parts of Swansea but obviously in a slightly different way.”
Introducing the draft policy, council officer Deb Hill said: “We are lucky in Swansea – we have a wide range of parks and wildlife sites and green spaces, but they are not equally accessible to all.
“Some of the most deprived communities are the most deprived of green space.”
The council is taking steps to improve the city’s so-called green infrastructure, and has prioritised maintaining and enhancing Swansea’s natural environment and biodiversity. Another priority is reducing poverty.
The draft policy would bring these existing policies together and try to get the most out of them. Grants would be assessed to see if they can be allocated to benefit deprived areas, and then spent accordingly.
Cllr Christine Richards said the policy aims should be incorporated into planning guidance as well.
She said mature trees had been cut down in a deprived area of her Lower Loughor ward so that developers could extend a road to a new estate.
“Trees and hedges are often casualties of development – maybe there is something we need to say about that,” she said.
To avoid duplication, councillors voted in a favour of draft policy which will say it is the council’s intention to deliver more green infrastructure in deprived areas through its existing strategies.
In due course it will be submitted to cabinet for consideration.
The committee also heard that the estimated life expectancy gap between the most and least deprived men in Swansea was around 12 years. The gap in healthy life expectancy was nearly 23 years.
Cllr Peter Jones, who represents Sketty, described this as “awful” and “deplorable”.