Chafford Hundred Youth Provision

THIS is the first in a series of pieces on the problems in Chafford Hundred.

Here we interview businessman and former local councillor Martin Healy on the problems that appear to have reared their ugly head in Chafford Hundred.

The question of provision for young people in Chafford Hundred has surfaced again with the news that the Bar ‘n Bus facility has been withdrawn amidst accusations that it’s a magnet for anti-social behaviour in the area.

The matter came to a head at the Chafford Hundred Community Forum meeting on January 12th, 2009, when events were recorded in great detail as organisations from the area gathered to bear witness to the growing number of young people allegedly creating crime and disorder in the area.

The police have instigated regular patrols and have implemented a special Operation to try and stem the flow of crime.

Critics of the Community Forum have oftened questioned the Community forum as to whether the forums for debate exaggerate the situation somewhat.

Two years ago, a similar meeting warned of ‘rivers of blood’ in the area as they again documented how young people were rampaging on the streets.

Evidence of such ‘delinquency’ was light on the ground. One observer said: “It may be that some people in Chafford Hundred buy into an idyll that really doesn’t exist.”

Chafford Hundred has long been criticised for its lack of provision and some say that it is time for the Councillors to pledge for increased provision for youth services.

Since it began in September, YourThurrock has found itself out and about at numerous clubs and societies in the borough but apart from a few notable exceptions (including the excellent Campus) there seems to be very little to do in the area.

Urban geographers will tell you: it was ever thus. New add-on areas around the M25 such as Chafford Hundred have suffered from not having the level of community interaction that others have enjoyed.

From information received it seems that residents claim they are scared to leave their homes.

The forum heard that: “Youths arrive there (Drake Road Bar ‘n Bus) from 4pm and cause general disturbance in the area until way after the bus leaves.”

Residents say they are scared to leave their homes on a Friday night and avoid going to the shops totally.

Tesco is running extra security, vehicles are being vandalised and the Gorges Centre has been forced to close early.

The local church also reported youths running rampant in the church.

The police have confirmed there has been a catalogue of crimes in the area including, according to the meeting minutes, a grievous bodily harm just before Christmas.

Last month, the police were called to the area to a general disturbance with 61 young people stopped.

Since that night, Grays Police have began a special operation to deal specifically with this problem on a Friday night.

PC Rosh Napaul has reported to the Forums that many of the youths stopped on the street come from as far as Barking.

According to the minutes, ‘Volunteers who work on the bus claim that there are children living on this estate (Chafford Hundred) in problem families who arrive drunk and on drugs in need of support’.

Residents argue that these ‘problem people’ do not live on Chafford Hundred…and that the bus is a magnet for these problem people coming here from deprived areas.

This is always a moot point in the Chafford Hundred area. There is always a contention that there are no ‘problem families’ in the area. Perhaps there aren’t – but the language used is always injudicious.

One source said: “Perhaps there are people in Chafford Hundred who cannot accept that there are socio-economic problems in Chafford.”

YourThurrock is going to attempt to ascertain what the actual problems in Chafford Hundred are and perhaps paint a real picture of life in the area.

We will be aiming to speak to as many ‘stakeholders’ as possible.

There are lots of questions that need to be asked – including why the Hate Crime Officers have been involved in several meetings in the area?

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