I went to the Alexandra pub yesterday to catch the end of the England match, and as I was leaving some of the pubs partons recognised me, and I spoke to them for about half an hour. It was a good conversation, and it hammered home to me the problems that have been raised to me by other Grange residents for the last few months.
The biggest complaint was that there is little to do for younger people. The Old Barn is out of use (ahem) and the small centre on the grange has large metal fences around it, and seems to be falling apart. The lack of engagement and activities for young people was the reason why there are so many problems with youth crime, anti social behaviour and, as they claimed, gun and knife carrying.
The residents also felt that priorities were wrong, and that we should be looking to preserve funding for areas with the greatest need of intervention and support. They were staggered at the suggestion that the Newstead surestart centre might lose a third of it's funding.
I entirely agree.
My colleagues and I have arranged a site visit to the Grange, so that we can show housing officers the problems there first hand. Work is also being done to restore the Old Barn to community use as well. The problem is that work is progressing slowly, and the slow progress is making things worse. I hope the visit will show just how urgent the need is to engage with residents, particulaly young people.