‘Bored’ Sudbury youngsters turning to antisocial behaviour

There is nothing for the youth of Sudbury to do

There is nothing for the youth of Sudbury to do - Credit: Archant

Young people are feeling increasingly “isolated” and are getting involved in antisocial behaviour because there is not enough for them to do in their west Suffolk town, it has been claimed.

Newly elected Sudbury town councillor Luke Cresswell has accused the county council of “ignoring” the area’s youngsters and failing to provide adequate facilities or transport links.

He says provision for children aged between 12 and 16 is “totally inadequate” and he is campaigning for improvements that he believes should be identified by local school students.

Last night, officers from the county and district councils defended their position and said that a united approach between multiple organisations was needed to tackle the issue.

It is due to be discussed at a meeting next week where Mr Cresswell hopes to persuade fellow town councillors to engage with youngsters and set up a working group.

He said: “Young people in Sudbury get a lot of bad press for getting involved in antisocial behaviour but they are mostly really good people who are bored because there’s nothing for them to do after 5.30pm, and transport links in the more rural areas are poor or nonexistent.

“We need to tackle the causes of anti-social behaviour by ensuring that young people are part of our community, rather than making them feel isolated.

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“We obviously cannot rely on Suffolk County Council, which has ignored Sudbury for many years and is scaling back on what it currently offers in terms of youth provision.”

A youth ‘hub’ which was set up at Belle Vue House in 2012 closed down within 18 months due to lack of interest. But according to Mr Cresswell, the initiative which followed a traditional youth club format, failed because it did not offer the right kind of activities or environment.

He added: “The hub was half-hearted and organised by older councillors who are out of touch with what young people want. I have put this on the town council agenda so that we can talk about what we can do as a town. We need to engage properly with young people, work with them and ensure we meet their needs.”

According to Babergh’s corporate manager for healthy communities, Jonathan Seed, the statutory duty to “secure access to positive activities” for young people in Suffolk is the responsibility of the county council.

But he said the district council was keen to work with local partners including voluntary and community sector, schools, groups and clubs to enable community-led youth projects and programmes, especially where there is clear evidence of an unmet need and an emphasis on early intervention and prevention.

He added: “This could take the form of advice, support and/or grant funding. The Porch Project established in Hadleigh in 2009 is a good example of what can be achieved in this field by our local communities.”

Meanwhile a Suffolk County Council spokesman said they were working in collaboration with a wide range of partners to support the development and maintenance of provision for young people in Sudbury and the surrounding areas.

“We have delivered a number of targeted projects which support young people’s progression into post 16 learning,” the spokesman said.

“Whilst we no longer directly fund open access youth work we do support Community Action Suffolk in their partnership work with local voluntary organisations. (The new) Connect Sudbury (initiative) provides a new opportunity for greater partnership working with communities and to actively engage young people in developing solutions.”