Zac Arnold, Youth Officer for Forest of Dean Constituency Labour Party, said:
“Yesterday (Friday 25 January), it was reported that the newly refurbished bridge across Dean Forest Railway from Lydney Boating Lake to St. Mary’s Church had been hit by an arson attack suspected to have been committed by young people. This is the latest in a series of acts of mindless vandalism across the town in recent years.
These acts must be condemned wholeheartedly and in the strongest of terms, but, simultaneously we must realise that these acts are committed by a very small minority of individuals and we must work together to find a solution.
For far too long, our young people have been left feeling isolated and attacked as a result of persistent cuts from both the Conservative government and the Conservative-led Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) and this must stop. In order to stop acts like this, we must build a strong and constructive relationship with all parties, work to take our young people off the streets and provide them with the services and facilities they need to thrive and take pride in the community they live in.
It’s time for change, it’s time to rebuild our youth services so that they work for the many not the few. This is the only way we have a chance of ending this. If anyone has any information regarding the vandalism directed at the bridge please don’t hesitate to get in touch, all information will be treated anonymously and reported to Dean Forest Railway and the Police.”
Locally, Labour Will:
- Fight against any attempts to demolish Lydney Skate Park unless the equipment is re-sited in an alternative location.
- Put pressure on relevant authorities and work with key partners to provide dedicated outdoor and indoor spaces for our young people to socialise and give them something to do.
- Put pressure on town and parish councils to cooperate and participate in the Forest Voluntary Action Forum district-wide youth services initiative which was launched this month.
- Fight to ensure Gloucestershire County Council reverses the cuts to frontline youth services that are leaving our young people behind.
Nationally, A Labour Government pledges:
- Abolition of tuition fees and reintroduction of maintenance grants.
- Free lunches for pupils.
- Votes for 16-17 year olds.
- Extend schools-based counselling to all schools to improve children’s mental health.
- Restore the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16 to 18-year-olds from lower and middle income backgrounds.
- Improve careers advice.
- Investment – in teachers and facilities – in FE sector.
- End the cuts to youth services.
- Extend Staying Put arrangements to support all children and young people in residential and other forms of care until they are 21 (not just foster care).
- Ensure that young people understand and are able to easily remove any content they shared on the internet before they turned 18.
- Introduce free bus travel for under 25s.