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Problems in Nelson are gradually being overcome
A STONE’S throw from Nelson town centre is the border of Southfield ward.
The ward goes up the hill from Netherfield Road along Barkerhouse Road, which has terraced streets branching off, before reaching the sprawling countryside up to Coldwell, where the ward ends.
Within the ward there are two churches and two mosques, as well as Walverden Primary School and St John’s Church of England Primary School.
Along Barkerhouse Road there are a number of shops including a popular chemists which has a needle exchange, set up following a problem with discarded needles in the town.
The area also has a multi-use games area and a small park with play area, while Marsden and Walverden Parks are in easy reach.
Sure Start has an outreach centre at Williams Hall in Barkerhouse Road which runs a range of groups for children including judo and playgroups as well as adult literacy classes and walks.
Like a lot of Nelson, the area has suffered from deprivation and problems with rundown housing.
Southfield was due to receive funding under the Elevate scheme to improve the quality of the housing, however the scheme was scrapped before work began.
Councillor Sheila Wicks has lived in Southfield for the past 30 years and has represented the ward for five years.
She said: “When it was thought that Southfield was going to get some of the Elevate money a lot of the houses were bought by speculators and were then left empty when the scheme was scrapped.
“The empty houses have proved to be a problem, however there have also been a number of new housing developments built which are attracting people to come and live in Southfield.
“Money in the ward has been scarce, however there are a number of groups which have been working hard to try and benefit people living here.
“The Friends of St John’s Churchyard is a community group and registered charity that was formed in 2005 by enthusiastic volunteers who were saddened by the overgrown old churchyard and wanted to improve it.
“The volunteers have carried out work to combat the pernicious Japanese Knotweed and damage by vandals.”
Southfield Community Action Forum in Smith Street runs various groups including classes for children to help them with their homework.
Woodlands Road Baptist Church off Smith Street runs a luncheon club, toddler group and youth club which are popular, while Southfield Area Residents’ Association has been working hard to raise the profile of the area and raise funds to pay for more amenities.
Coun Wicks said: “They have put photographs of windows and doors in the empty properties to try and make the houses look better, as well as litter picking and encouraging people to take pride in where they live.
“Currently, they are running a petition to get a pedestrian crossing in at the bottom part of Barkerhouse Road.
“There are a lot of good people in Southfield and they are the reason that I have stayed here for 30 years.
“They are working hard to try and improve the area and gradually things are changing but it is taking time.”
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