Middlesbrough’s MEP Jonathan Arnott has reacted to a report that the town has been branded the worst place for girls to grow up with a mixture of sadness and anger.
The report revealing that the town is the worst place to be a girl was produced by the charity Plan International UK. Having looked at factors including child poverty, educational attainment and teenage pregnancy rates it found a stark geographical divide for girls’ prospects, with inner city areas performing the worst.
Jonathan Arnott said “Last week I visited two charities in Middlesbrough (Teen Challenge and Tickle The Taste Buds) working with people at risk of substance abuse and to combat homelessness and provide support for families who simply can’t cope. I know that the charitable sector is doing phenomenal work, and I think it’s vital that we recognise the positives as well as the negatives.
“I hope that this report doesn’t result in people talking Middlesbrough down, especially at a time when there seems to be the prospect of some development and even the football team is on the way up!
“But nobody should be under any illusions about the reality of the lives of those hit hardest by poverty in Middlesbrough. It can be no coincidence that the town has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country with the North East region topping the regional figures again last month with 7.6% unemployment,” said Mr Arnott, UKIP Euro-MP.
The charity is calling for girls’ committees to be set up, mandatory sex and relationship education, and greater cross-departmental government cooperation to address the problems which include daily harassment.
Mr Arnott said, “We already have mandatory sex and relationship education in this country. This must be age-appropriate and I’ve consistently opposed calls for this to be extended to children as young as five. But the report is absolutely right to say that girls are being let down and we all have a responsibility to eradicate this situation.
“The North East is the region of the country most in need of improvement across the board and I fear only when that happens will the inequalities facing girls and young women be remedied.”
Last week, UKIP launched its Vision For The North East which demanded a fairer deal for the North East in terms of funding and a range of policies to create jobs and get the economy moving again.