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Council leader denies youths have 'nothing to do'
THE leader of East Dorset District Council has denied claims the lack of things young people to do in Verwood has led to an increase in antisocial behaviour.
Cllr Spencer Flower said there is provision for youngsters in the town but no one can force them to use it and there is no problem with them meeting up with friends as long as they don’t cause any trouble.
He said: “If you put provision in and it’s organised, young people will not use it. They want to hang around and I don’t mind that as long as they don’t misbehave. “Emmanuel School has a youth club with a permanent youth worker. There’s Potterne Park, a BMX track, a skate bowl, all put in over the last few years.
“There’s an Astroturf pitch and a multi-use games area that opened this summer. We’ve also got a sports hall opening at the end of the month and The Hub, although I appreciate there’s less for young people there, so there are endless things for people to do in Verwood, and that’s people of all ages. “It’s unfair to suggest otherwise.”
Cllr Flower has spoken out following complaints from members of the public who claim the lack of entertainment for young people has led to antisocial behaviour.
Dispersal powers, under Section 30 of the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003, have been put into place in the Verwood and the Potterne area for three months to try to tackle the issue.
Police officers can now disperse groups of two or more people if they believe they are going to cause trouble.
And they can take any young person in the area aged under 16 home between 9pm and 6am if they are involved in or thought to be at risk from antisocial behaviour.
Police acted following a rise in reports of groups of youths congregating in the town, with some drinking, behaving antisocially and causing criminal damage.
Cllr Flower said: “Alcohol can be a part of it, and the shops have a means of controlling that as they have the names of underage drinkers. “I have to give full credit to the police because they are doing a thoroughly good job in Verwood.”
Mr Flower added: “I’m not going to stigmatise the younger generation. A lot of them are great kids, but there are always a few who want to cause trouble.”
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