Burnley Council leader column | Youth zone would be an anti-social behaviour game-changer

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Whilst out and about across the borough this week many residents have raised the issue of anti-social behaviour.

Several matters have been brought to light, such as difficulties in the town centre, damage to private hire vehicles and issues related to speeding and careless parking across the borough.

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Rightly so, law-abiding citizens can feel discouraged and disappointed by the inaction of authorities and feel their complaints and fears are often not taken seriously. They are understandably frustrated by what is often seen as a lack of action or progress.

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Burnley Council leader Afrasiab AnwarBurnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar
Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar

To add insult to injury the Police & Crime Commissioner has proposed a further 6.4% rise to the council tax precept, which is understandably questioned on the doorstep.

Hard working people who are already struggling are quite rightly concerned about what their contributions will pay for. The odd workshop or a glossy leaflet is not what they want to see their hard-earned cash spent on.

What residents want to see is us striving to get back to community policing, with police officers that are more visible and actively working on resolving the issues that matter most to our residents.

It can be easy to look down on young people and blame them for everything, but we should keep in mind that local youth services have taken a major hit in recent years.

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There is now simply nowhere for them to channel their energy and as such they are at a disadvantage. Therefore, it is critically important that proper investment is made to provide them with facilities fit for purpose.

To ensure our young people are in with a chance of receiving the required support, the council has collaborated with Onside, a national charity, and other partners to apply to the Youth Investment Fund.

We recognise this as a great opportunity and have thus taken proactive steps to make it possible. If we get the green light from the government for our bid for a youth zone, this will be a game-changer in tackling anti-social behaviour and giving young people more opportunities and raising their aspirations.

Our neighbourhoods are blessed with some tremendous community-based and voluntary initiatives that offer so much. The Youth Zone will complement them and take this to a new level, giving all our children and young people access to state-of-the art facilities and opportunities, whilst driving positive outcomes, including improved mental and physical wellbeing and skills for life and work.

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The whole borough will benefit, and the youth zone will be the final piece of the jigsaw as part of our Canalside and Town Centre Masterplan. We believe we have a very strong bid however the government's policy of having local authorities engage in a bidding contest doesn't do anyone any favours. Allocation of funding should be based on need rather than who has the best bid writers.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to all our partners for their support and the officers for pulling the bid together. The work they have put in is simply remarkable.