Criticism over decision to postpone family fun day in wake of Tavis Spencer-Aitkens’s death
PUBLISHED: 19:00 24 June 2018
Calls have been made for leaders to reverse their decision to call off a family fun day in Ipswich following a violent crime wave that led to the loss of a young life.
Organising committee member Sam Murray said the event, originally scheduled to take place in Landseer Park on July 15, would have provided “relief for a fractured community”.
Her words came after 17-year-old Tavis Spencer-Aitkens was stabbed to death and a 16-year-old boy was seriously injured during another stabbing in the Nacton area of the town in the space of just two weeks this month.
Town leaders have since vowed to put the power into the hands of the community to decide what changes need to be made in the area to stop young people getting caught up in drug and gang culture.
However, at a public meeting on Thursday, Mrs Murray said Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) had postponed the Gainsborough Community Fun Day at short notice and without consulting organisers or the public.
At the meeting Helen Pluck, IBC deputy chief executive, said having a “fun day” that close to Tavis’ funeral might not be appropriate.
There were also concerns about security as Suffolk Constabulary officers will be tied up at other high-profile events that weekend.
Speaking to this newspaper after the meeting about why the fun day should go ahead, Mrs Murray, 31, from Ravenswood, said: “It’s not going to bring back a life or stop gangs or drugs but what it will do is lift the mood.
“I think maybe we could rename it to a community day but I feel if the community comes together and has that relief for a couple of hours not having to think of the reality of things that would really help us.
“This would be cheap, local, family-oriented and provide relief for a fractured community.”
Mrs Murray called on IBC to fund private security.
She added: “I understand and appreciate the concerns regarding safety, I haven’t got rose tinted glasses on, but we need to learn a lesson from this – we can’t say to a community we are listening, then make a decision without talking to the community first.”
An IBC spokesman said: “We have to put public safety considerations first and continue to talk to the organisers about a new date for this fun day. We have also offered to help rearrange the event.”