The saga of the dumb-ass dispersal order for young people on College Green continues…
Photo ‘No Boarding’ by Fat Mandy
14 year old Ellie Vowles wrote to The Evening Cancer over two weeks ago about the College Green dispersal order (Blogger Passim) requesting that local MPs and councillors “reply, giving your views and saying what you will do”.
And remarkably they have. First out of the blocks was Ellie’s local MP Labour’s Kerry McCarthy. She wrote to The Cancer saying:
“Young people have always tended to congregate in public places in town and city centres, which does not in itself constitute anti-social behaviour. And I would urge the police, youth services and other local agencies to work closely with the young people who use College Green as a meeting place, to address some of the causes for concern, so that a positive outcome can be reached.”
And she concluded, “In this particular case, I believe that the decision to seek a dispersal order for College Green may have been premature.”
Then Bristol West’s Lib Dem MP Stephen Williams pitched in at the end of July with a statement in parliament no less (that was badly misquoted in The Cancer). He told the Minister for Children, Young People and Families, Beverley Hughes in response to her announcement of a 10 year ‘Aim Higher’ strategy for young people:
“I hope that the statement is the welcome start of a departure from some of the language of the Tony Blair era, namely the language of marching children to cash points, the language of dealing with feral youth and the the language of imposing dispersal orders on young people, such as the fatuous dispersal order imposed on skateboarders in my constituency this week.”
Ms Hughes weakly responded: “Many young people suffer from such [anti-social] behaviour and we need to protect them and demonstrate to them that they are part of our consideration.”
Last week saw the two local Lib Dem councillors for Cabot Ward, which includes College Green, enter the fray. Alex Woodman announced on his blog he hadn’t even been told about it let alone consulted:
I’m very unhappy at not having been consulted about this – very, very unhappy. My inclination is to be opposed – there seems to be something fundamentally illiberal about dispersal orders. However, I’m still waiting for the police to get back to me with a justification for why they think it is necessary before making a final judgement. In any case, I don’t like finding out about things like this from the Evening Post…
He was followed just days later by his Cabot Ward Lib Dem colleague, Mark Wright:
I would like to point out that as the local Councillor I was not consulted about the dispersal order, and if I had been consulted I would have opposed it. It is entirely the wrong way to get youngsters to respect society and authority; it will get exactly the wrong results. The way to deal with any problems on College Green is to engage with the youngsters there and get them to understand the issues and learn to control the situation themselves.
So there you have it. A whole series of our elected representatives, directly responsible for the area in question, all against the dispersal order and what happens? The dispersal area remains in place!
And then they wonder why people don’t vote. Perhaps it’s got something to do with the fact that our politicians don’t have any power? Instead they’re given access to newspapers to issue some kind words, handed very expensive publicly funded debating chambers to hang around whinging in and then, presumably, they just hope nobody will notice they don’t actually do anything whatsoever?
Meanwhile the people making all the decisions are unelected, appointed bureaucrats, seemingly immune from even having to listen to, let alone act on, the demands of our democratically elected representatives.
In this case it seems Chief Constable, Colin Port assisted by his sidekick – some ASBO obsessed bint called Kathryn Perks – are taking the decisions. Who are they accountable to exactly? It’s certainly not us.