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A SHOCK report has labelled Sandhurst as a socially deprived black spot with an increasing rate of teenage pregnancies and youth crime.

A SHOCK report has labelled Sandhurst as a socially deprived black spot with an increasing rate of teenage pregnancies and youth crime.

Described as the "most disadvantaged parish in the Bracknell Forest Council area", the town also has the highest percentage of families receiving income support and claiming housing benefit.

The findings paint a totally different picture to the affluent image of the Berkshire town which is the home of the Royal Military Academy.

Town council chairman and mayor Peter North could hardly believe the report's bleak picture when it landed on his desk.

And he was stunned to learn that the council ward he represents, Sandhurst Central, was the most disadvantaged in the Bracknell area.

"I genuinely didn't have any idea that things were so bad in my ward," he said.

He was particularly concerned that there had been a significant increase in the number of girls aged 15 to 17 becoming pregnant in Sandhurst.

"Central and Little Sandhurst have the worst rate of all," he said. "The rate in Central Sandhurst has trebled in as many years."

The 10-page report, compiled by Berkshire Community Council, also reveals that Sandhurst has more than its fair share of regular young troublemakers.

"This generates significant community safety issues which are not replicated to the same degree elsewhere," the report adds.

Coun. North said: "Sandhurst is still an affluent town, but this report shows clearly there are some areas which are not well off."

He added that the findings underlined the urgent need for a young people's Information and Advice Centre which could soon be built in the town.

Bracknell Forest Council and the UB40 charity have agreed to finance the £270,000 construction costs, with Sandhurst Council supplying the land.

The council has agreed that the centre should be built alongside the former Coffee Spot building in the Memorial Park.

But the council's offer of the site has sparked a legal challenge which Coun. North said had to be settled before the end of this month."Building work has to start by the beginning of March if we are to qualify for the money," he said. "We want the best services possible for our residents, young, old and everyone in between, and we want them available close by."

Meanwhile at a civic reception the Mayor honoured volunteers who do untold hours of community work and described Sandhurst as "a wonderful town." See story "Sandhurst's special people".


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