Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Lisa and Graham are on the executive committee, and Chamber of Commerce meetings are held at Well House Manor

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Vandalism and riot from the minority - the effect

Vandalised Daffodils, MelkshamLast Wednesday, I walked to work past the Canberra Youth Centre on Spa Road, and I was disappointed to see that the lovely display of daffodils had been severely damaged, with flowers lying crushed and damaged on the lawns, and strewn around on the walkways, pavement and in the road. We've heard such good reports about this youth centre, yet here it is apparently attracting vandalism into the largely residential area in which it's situated; a concern for the neighbours.

It would be easy to assume that it's youths who caused the damage. And it would be easy to assume further than those youths would be in some way associated with Canberra which is, after all, a youth centre. But those are two assumptions too far. I would be very surprised to learn that the damage was caused by a group of drunken radical pensioners, but then I would be equally surprised if it was caused by the majority of the younger members of our community, and / or by those who use the centre.

Over the weekend, a peaceful march in London in protest against government cuts errupted into some violent scenes within breakoff groups, and the march organisers were very disappointed in that. For sure, the memory of the march is not so much the crowds walking down the street - it's the TV image of people ramming windows in the West End and breaking into businesses. And such actions by fringe groups, attracted by (but not condoned by) the march organisers, make it more difficult for such marches in the future, and for the message from the march to be taken seriously. Concern will be not on "how can we cut the pain of cuts" but on "how can we prevent this destruction"?

Is there a lesson in the London experience for Melksham. There's a question mark at the moment over the youth centre - should it move in to an out of town Campus, or stay where it is? At present, the young people can go there on their own - by cycle, or walking, and it's popular. But is costs more money for staff and perhaps increased security on a separate site. Move it to the campus, and you'll be sharing the cost of supervisory and security staff with other services, and you'll be removingit from a residential road. But then you'll be providing something which is far less accessible to the young people who really want to use it from those areas of the town where parantal car ownership is not the norm, and where the majority of excellent young people would feel kettled - and it's not a foregone conculsion it would be used.

(written 2011-03-28)

 
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