MINING will forever be synonymous with South Derbyshire.
Thousands of men moved millions of tonnes of coal each and every day until Cadley Hill pit’s last day of production on March 25, 1988 marked the end of deep coal mining in the area.
Ever since that day the area has been trying to recover and is just starting to emerge from the shadow that the collapse of the industry had in the 1980s.
Now, a new report by academics from Sheffield Hallam University, has revealed that the area is bucking the trend compared to other coal mining centred towns across the county.
While many are struggling to fight back from the jobs losses that followed in the wake of the miners’ strike of 1984-85, South Derbyshire is one of only a handful of areas that has emerged distinctly less disadvantaged.
The report states: “South Derbyshire’s relative prosperity is clearest in the statistics on deprivation, but also shines through a number of other indicators.
“Within each of these areas there will still be communities and households that face acute disadvantage, but on average in this area the recovery from coal job losses now seems well entrenched.
“This is perhaps partly because the absolute scale of the job loss was less than elsewhere and partly because residents in each of these areas have been able to benefit from jibs and growth in surrounding areas.
“However, growth and prosperity is helping to hide the scale of problems elsewhere in the UK.
“On balance, the evidence provided a compelling case that most coalfield communities require support.”
Statistics collated for the report showed that the average life expectancy of people in the area was 79, above the average of all coalfields in the UK of 77.
In terms of the number of people in bad or very bad health, 5.3 per cent are in this area compared to 7.6 per cent across the country.
Only 4.1 per cent of the population in South Derbyshire are claiming Disability Living Allowance compared to 6.1 per cent nationally.
Peter McNestry, chairman of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, said: “This report really brings home the scale of the deprivation that has been faced by 5.5 million people, more than Scotland’s total population.
“What’s more, these coalfields communities have had to endure this for well over a quarter of a century.
“We have worked for 15 years to support these communities and to provide them with access to the resources, practical advice and funding that they need to help themselves.
“We have come some way to improving the situation in the coalfields but this report proves there is still a great deal of work to be done.
“We are pleased to see that the report has made specific reference to the areas that now appear distinctly less disadvantaged like South Derbyshire.
“They are a positive example of what we hope to achieve throughout all coalfields communities.”
The report revealed that the UK coal industry has shed around 250,000 jobs since the start of the 1980s.
However, the area has been boosted so much by job growth in other sectors of the local economy that, by 2008, it has been sufficient to offset all the coal job losses since 1981.
No matter what this reports states, many people still walk the streets of Swadlincote, scarred by the experience of the end of the mining industry.
However, the simple fact that South Derbyshire is bucking the trend when so many others surely is very good news?