Letter: Reach out to young

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I am a councillor and member of the borough council’s scrutiny committee and was present when Cllr Louis Booth commented: “Rich kids cause as much boozy bother” in connection with concerns about anti-social behaviour.

His unwise and unguarded comments, in my opinion, implied that professional people were unskilled at parenting.

Cllr Booth’s comments are his own and do not reflect the collective view of Erewash Borough Council.

Stigmatising young people is wrong. Youngsters from all socio-economic backgrounds deserve active support rather than to be tossed around as political footballs in cross-party dog-fights.

I would state my disquiet at the fact that young people have not been engaged in any consultation steered by Erewash on matters concerning their welfare. When have they been asked for their views about cyber bullying, sexual exploitation, and pressure exerted by aggressive and exploitative gangs?These issues did not even make the list of priorities.

I was also disconcerted to note that the council had mailed 50 letters to parents with regard to their children ‘hanging around’.

‘Hanging around’ was not linked to alcohol abuse, which was addressed separately under the ‘anti-social behaviour’ umbrella.

We were not told how many parents were afforded the courtesy of having their views sought about how they might be part of the solution, instead of what appears, in my view, to be a determination to semi-criminalise young people.

In 35 years as a parent, I am well aware that ‘youth provision’ is failing young people.My councillor postbag tells the same tale. What is there for young people in Erewash to do?

I have received some excellent suggestions from young people and their parents and regard it as a duty to progress these ideas through the channels available to me.

Meanwhile, it is unhelpful for elected members, in my opinion, to stigmatise young people and make good parents feel bad about themselves, whilst offering no positive suggestions to support young people and hard-pressed parents whose children have to ‘hang around’ because no suitable provision, in my opinion, is provided by Erewash Borough Council’. Instead, we should reach out to young people and their parents.

We need their input; they need to know that we care about their safety. They are the future of this borough and will lead it after Louis Booth and I are no longer part of the equation.

And I say to Erewash Borough Council as a body: It is wrong to stigmatise young people. What matters is not where they come from, but where they are going to. Each one of them is a citizen of Erewash.

They are entitled to respect as a right – and not a privilege.

It should be our collective goal for 2014. It is certainly my New Year’s resolution!

Cllr Linda McGraw