Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Road charges and youth

Two discussions of interest to me and to this area at the city council today.

The first was a report about West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority.

I spoke and expressed my alarm at the handling of the congestion charging proposals. They are meant to be out to consultation for public debate - but there is precious little sign of the public being involved.

As things stand the proposals would mean tolls on Beeches Road, Thornbridge Avenue, Queslett Road, Aldridge Road and Brookvale Road - all along the line of the M6. They would divide communities and penalise this area. In addition our PTA group does not think the proposals do nearly enough to improve bus services.

We are circulating a petition on Focus so please sign it if you get a copy.

After the meeting I read in the Evening Mail that Len Gregory had committed our coalition to oppose the charges. He doesn't think a workable system can be devised. All the indications are the government is relying on the West Midlands agreeing to something - and is pushing for it sooner rather than later.

Most local people who have taken it in are staggered by the proposals. Yet it's one of those things that will happen if it's not nipped in the bud.

The second topic was a major report on youth services produced by members of the education scrutiny committee and by a group of young people.

At last arrangements for youth are starting to come together in our area. The youth club at Trehurst is open most of the time and is thriving - after the community centre spent about two years battling with red tape to get their work done. Similarly the "Pod" on Hassop Road is about to open its doors. That will enable the youth service to get local young people off the streets - and where their lives are in turmoil ensure they get what was described by one of the young people at today's council meeting as a "second chance". It's good that we have active police teams on the streets now but for most young people, once they start hanging out on the streets, it would be better if their first encounter could be with the youth service rather than the police.


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