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Bury St Edmunds councillor appeals to MP Jo Churchill for investment to help Howard estate's children 'failed by generational poverty'

A Bury St Edmunds councillor has appealed to the town’s MP for more investment in his estate to support children and young people ‘failed by generational poverty’.

Cllr Max Clarke, who represents the St Olaves ward on West Suffolk Council, highlighted the need for a ‘multi-agency approach to help lift the aspirations of our bright children’ on the Howard estate.

The Labour councillor has written to MP Jo Churchill about the issue following an incident on the estate last week in which hydrogen peroxide was allegedly thrown in a man’s face.

Cllr Max Clarke
Cllr Max Clarke

In his letter to Mrs Churchill, he said this incident ‘didn’t happen in a vacuum’ and other criminal and anti-social behaviour on the estate were ‘not one off occurrences’ and more needed to be done to raise aspirations.

He pointed to attainment at Howard Community Primary School, where 23 per cent of pupils achieved the expected standard in reading, writing and maths in 2018/19.

In his letter Cllr Clarke said: “Our children are being failed by our society. We’re letting them down. Generations have passed through my community, similarly let down. They are living in inadequate accommodation, they have long-term physical and mental health disorders, they’re victims and perpetrators of anti-social behaviour.”

St Olaves Road, on the Howard estate, in Bury St Edmunds. Picture Mark Westley
St Olaves Road, on the Howard estate, in Bury St Edmunds. Picture Mark Westley

He said children were ‘failed by virtue of the post code they were born into’ and ‘failed by generational poverty’.

Plans for a new community centre on the estate were approved in February but Cllr Clarke has suggested the need for a youth centre, an advice centre and a community allotment. He has spoken to Alison Weir, acting headteacher at Howard Primary, which joined the Anglian Learning trust on April 1.

She said they are taking action ‘to ensure all pupils receive the right support to achieve well’.

“We welcome Cllr Clarke’s interest and are seeking to engage fully with all partner organisations to ensure improvements are delivered at the right time and in the most appropriate way,” she added.

Our children are being failed by our society. We're letting them down. Our children deserve better. My community deserves better. We need more than politics, we need care. We need investment - Cllr Max Clarke, in his letter to MP Jo Churchill

Mrs Churchill said Cllr Clarke’s letter was ‘timely’ as others have also reached out to ask for more facilities for young people across the town. She said: “I will be writing to Max and will be suggesting we work together with other stakeholders to find solutions.”