12:40pm Saturday 14th April 2012
PEOPLE in Warrington are proud of their town and feeling happy but have worries about paying bills and empty shops, according to our online survey.
After Prime Minister David Cameron set up a happiness index to rate how the nation is feeling, the Warrington Guardian asked readers what their thoughts are on the town and the next 12 months.
Results found women living in Great Sankey were the happiest with 10 per cent describing themselves as ‘very happy’ while the majority of people who filled in our questionnaire said they were ‘happy but with some concerns’.
Top of residents’ worries were prices and bills increasing with 42 per cent picking it out as their biggest concern over lack of employment opportunities for young people and pressure on the health services.
Twelve per cent more women than men highlighted bills as their biggest concern.
Residents’ biggest cause for anxiety in Warrington this year was the number of empty shops in the town centre.
More than 35 per cent said it was their top concern over the volume of traffic and police officers being cut, which both had 15 per cent of the vote.
Great Sankey, Penketh and Bewsey readers made plans to extend the life of Arpley landfill in Sankey Bridges a bigger concern than readers living in other areas of the town.
But the council and Golden Square shopping centre have said the future is bright for the town.
Ian Cox, Golden Square centre manager, said: “The shopping centre is dedicated to occupying store units with retailers that enhance the town centre offering and the Warrington community.
“We work hard to maintain a high occupancy rate in the centre and are encouraged by the general level of interest from potential new retailers.”
Andy Farrall, executive director for environment and regeneration, said the council is optimistic and has ‘exciting’ long-term plans including the redevelopment of Time Square.
He added: “For a town the size of Warrington, and bearing in mind the state of the economy, we have a fairly average vacancy rate given the unprecedented number of chain stores that have gone into administration over the past year or two.”
UNEMPLOYMENT levels decreasing in the town is high on people’s wish lists this year.
Fifty per cent of readers who filled out our online questionnaire said it was the thing they would most like to see happen in the town despite latest figures finding more people are employed in Warrington than the north west and national averages.
The Office of National Statistics has found 75.5 per cent of the 97,800 people in Warrington, aged 16 to 64, are employed which is higher than the north west at 68.4 per cent and Great Britain at 70.2 per cent.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the latest employment figures were ‘encouraging with signs the labour market is stabilising’.
He added: “There is clearly still a big challenge ahead to bring down unemployment and get people back to work.
“The international economic outlook remains difficult but we will do everything we can to help the unemployed find jobs.”
The survey also found 19 per cent of people wanted to see more shops and 11 per cent want to see Warrington Wolves win a trophy this season.
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