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SHOCKED South Shore residents have reacted angrily to claims they are the hardest hit by poverty in the country.

A new study by the Church Urban Fund labelled the area among the 10 most deprived communities in the UK, and revealed it had a male life expectancy of 66.

But those living in the heart of South Shore disagreed with the figures, which found 52 per cent of children were living in poverty.

Eileen Landini, 62, of Carlisle Avenue, said: “There are some lovely people and lovely homes.

“There are certain streets where it can be bad, but I think people are fine. I’m happy living here, and so are my grandchildren.”

Full-time carer Jacqueline Dickinson, 54, of Brighton Avenue, added: “Everyone is struggling with money, and I don’t think this part of Blackpool is worse than anywhere else.

“The council needs to spend money on Blackpool, and if it doesn’t it’s not going to help anyone.”

The online survey, conducted by a Church of England charity working to tackle poverty in England, used Government poverty indicators to produce the results.

It named South Shore as one of the poorest areas in the North West, and included other communities in Manchester and Liverpool.

Michael Airton, 78, from Harrowside, added: “I don’t think there is a lot of poverty.

“I’ve lived here for five years and I think it’s quite affluent, and there is enough money to spend.

“It upsets me when people think this is a bad area, because there are a lot of places in Blackpool which are worse than South Shore.”

Friends Manis Sweeney, 51, of Watson Road and David Holden, 52, of Westbourne Avenue, instantly disagreed with the survey as soon as they heard about it.

Mr Sweeney said: “I was shocked when I heard the survey, because we are definitely not the worst.

“A lot of people come to South Shore to get away from the north or central areas of Blackpool.

“I wouldn’t go to Central Drive on a night time unless I really had to.”

Mr Holden added: “To say it’s one of the worst in the country is a bit strong.

“Given the choice between living in North Shore, South Shore or central Blackpool, South Shore wins every time.”

This is not the first time the resort has been linked with child poverty.

In October last year, Blackpool Council revealed half of all children in the town’s Bloomfield and Claremont wards were living below the breadline.

Families struggling to make ends meet relied on benefits to pay for their children’s meals, and they were frantically searching for a job.

Blackpool Council told The Gazette it is tackling poverty “head on”, and a £1m grant received from the heritage lottery fund will be used to invest in local communities.

Arlington Road resident Diane Fleming, 48, says money needs to be spent in South Shore.

She said: “There are areas on Lytham Road which are affected. The amount of shops which have closed is quite sad, and on this street, it seems like every other shop has gone.

“Blackpool Council is doing a lot to regenerate this area.

“They’ve done the Promenade which looks great, but there’s not a lot they can do with the privately owned buildings away from the front.

“We’ve been declining for years and the country on the whole is struggling.”

Mark Brookes, 52, from Highfield Road, South Shore, has a different view.

He added: “I don’t agree with the findings.

“I think South Shore is brilliant. We have the Promenade close by and I can’t see any signs of poverty around here.

“There’s a new hospital and doctors surgery which has just been built, so I don’t know where the figures have come from.”

Trader Tim Quibell, owner of Fresh N Fruity, on Highfield Road, also disagreed that South Shore was one of the UK’s poorest areas.

He added: “I live on Park Road, which is worse than this area, but it’s still not affected by poverty.

“I disagree with the figures because I can’t see any evidence of it where my shop is and it certainly isn’t affecting my business.”