Environmental issues are key for NW economy, says report

Michael Hunt

An economic recovery will only happen if the social and environmental conditions are in place to act as a foundation, according to a new report by charity Groundwork North West.

The report, titled Quality Streets, also calls on regional and national decision makers to target the North West's most disadvantaged people in innovative and bold ways.

Ian MacArthur, Groundwork's regional director, said: "A good quality of life for the residents of the North West is not an added extra. What really matters to people can often be just a few steps from their front door: the quality of parks and open spaces, the look and feel of their neighbourhoods and a sense of community.

"Economic development is hugely important, but, as we have often seen, overall increases in productivity often do nothing to help the deprived and socially excluded. Now is the opportunity to embed social and environmental factors into future policy."

The report, which focuses on 'why quality of life and neighbourhood environments are vital to a thriving North West', argues the social well being of the North West is suffering from a lack of coherent leadership.

It concludes by stating extensive research has shown neighbourhoods have a huge influence on quality of life.

The report said: "There exists a strong link between low quality environments and poor health and anti-social problems. Given that the North West has some of the worst local environments in the country, regenerating them must continue to be of the utmost importance to all concerned with making the North West the best it can be. This will require bold steps and new thinking to enable joined up focus on quality of life, and actions at the street level we can help to ensure we build resilient communities for the unique challenges of the twenty-first century."

There are seven Groundwork trusts across the North West. Their work includes helping businesses save energy and costs through environmental measures.

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