Saturday, 31 October 2009

Members' concerns #3 - Facilities for young people and anti-social behaviour (not necessarily related)

I've just spoken to a young member of the CLP - in his early twenties, I'd guess - who made the point about the need, in his opinion, to improve facilities for young people in Darlington.

Firstly, whether it is a concern shared by most of the members remains to be seen, but it's been the first time it was mentioned in calls to a large number of members. But it got me to thinking that, because the profile of not only Darlington but practically every CLP in the country has a tendency towards older members (and I count myself in that bracket, being a tender 42 years old), sometimes we can under-emphasise issues that are of great importance to people under 30. (It's also interesting that climate change has also been mentioned only sporadically by members so far, despite it being an issue which young people are overwhelmingly concerned about, and understandably so.)

Secondly, his comment also chimes in with some of Nick Wallis' interesting posts on anti-social behaviour in Springfield and elsewhere. And here there really have been quite a number of members echoing this as an issue during my calls over the last couple of weeks.

Questions: (i) Could these two areas be related, or is it just coincidence? And (ii) in our discussions, should we as a Party take proportionally more notice of issues raised by young people, so as to better represent what's important to the electorate?

Anyway, it's a thought. I certainly think quite differently now, married with a two year-old daughter, than ten years ago when I was single and living alone.

Comments?

6 comments:

  1. Rob,
    being of simlar age to yourself, but with three teenage daughters, i too have seen my views on youth issues evolve over the years.
    As a parent you want your children to have facilities available to them where they can meet their friends in saftey and comfort.

    However, most residents in any community are very averse to having youth based facilities on their own doorstep. Given the behaviour of a small but signficant minority of youths this is understandable but should not preclude various authorities responsibility to provide facities for young people.

    In my view young people are villified today as never before, yet most work harder and perform better at school than ever before.

    I would hope that authorities, incl mp's should be able to work together to engage with young people at all levels. Care must also be taken to avoid yet more centralisation of services, when little or no provision is made for the more rural communities to access what is made available. (ie would you want your 14 yr old daughter to wait outside the Nags Head for a bus home to hurworth on a winters evening?)

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  2. As Ian H knows I am at present (along with others) trying to help provide more youth facilities in Hurworth and he is correct those that spoil it are a few and the same few that travel from venue to venue within the area spoiling them and the venues reputation with surrounding residents.

    In an ideal world they should have somewhere safe and warm to go everynight but until we get a more positive view on youth facilities and more volunteers it won't happen.

    As for the Hurworth bus stop being outside the Nags head pub. I would not want to stand out side on any night light or dark, hot or cold it was a insane place to have a bus stop only a few weeks ago (during the day) fighting drunks spilled out onto the streets armed with chairs and pool cues, quickly dispersing the waiting crowd at the bus stand.

    The incident was mentioned at a meeting of Hurworth Parish Council and to our Ward Cllr's with the view to getting the stop moved, hopefully in the light of an upcoming election we might see it moved in an attempt to win the hearts and minds of Labour candidates.

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  3. Ianh, firstly, 3 teenage daughters - my respects, you must have your work cut out there...!

    It's sadly true that it can be difficult to place youth facilities in an area which does not create resistence to their being there. However, as you say, that oughtn't stop us from working to provide them. I'm sure that a twin-prong approach, touching on elements of what Nick is talking about to ensure order is kept, can help build trust among local people that such initiatives do not mean the end of their peace and quiet - in fact, quite the opposite, as it reduces the possibility of boredom, the mother of anti-social behaviour.

    I'm certainly with you on agreeing a common approach between councillors and MPs for engaging young people. It is, after all, in the interests of both that they engage with politicians of all colours, which is increasingly not the case.

    Re centralisation: having grown up in the small village of Leeming, 20 miles to the south, I was dependent on my parents - and my trusty bike - for many years because there were virtually no bus services, so I appreciate the comment. I'd certainly like to see these schemes rolled out to rural communities. Again, gaining the confidence of the residents is equally important. In my experience, however, it's often there where you may meet less resistance, because there are communities crying out for facilities.

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  4. Ianw, that's a little disturbing about the violence outside the Nag's Head. From the electoral map, I notice that your DB councillors are Lib Dem. I'm guessing that you've already approached them.

    Obviously, I don't have all the information here, but if I were fortunate enough to be selected in December, I'd certainly be interested in knowing more about what you're doing.

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  5. Thanks Rob,
    It would clearly be beneficial for elected members, be they cllrs or MPs to put aside political afiliation when it comes to looking after residents needs. Sadly in darlington it seems very apparent that the ruling labour group have only for their heartland wards with little or no reference to other wards or the outlying parishes.
    You were obviously quick to pick up up on the fact that Hurworth has two lib-dem cllrs. I am not too sure why their afiliation is of any significance when it comes to the location of a bus stop?

    I do hope that whoever become Darlingtons next MP will have the strength of character and will to work with all groups and wards regardless of their political hue.

    Equally he/she must speak out when mistakes are made again regardless of afiliation.
    Just where was Mr Milburn during the Pedestrian Heart fiasco or the on-going transport corridor debacle. Both projects which were massively overbudget and incompetently handled by dbc.

    Do you agree that an MP is morally duty-bound to involve himself in these issues in order to protect and represent the people who elected him/her?

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  6. Ianh, that's a very leading question indeed.

    Look, I'm interested in the issues you raise and would like to learn more, as I said to Ianw. Yes, I think that MPs should sometimes speak out against things they disagree with, within reason.

    But it sounds like you are asking me to make a blanket commitment to get involved with a list of issues, some of which are not even inside Darlington constituency, which would be very unwise and wrong on my part. If I should have the privilege of being selected on December 5, call me and let's talk.

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