Skip to main content

Youth Facilities (Warrington)

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

Young people, their families and communities in Warrington and elsewhere are united in calling for attractive and safe youth facilities where young people can meet their friends, take part in positive activities and access support services. We are committed to meeting that demand. That is why, last month, we launched myplace, a new national programme of capital investment which will make available £190 million over the next three years to provide new or improved youth facilities.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer, but what can he do to ensure that Lib-Dem and Tory-controlled councils take advantage of the money that is being provided by the Government, so that areas in my constituency, such as Burtonwood—which get a youth bus only twice a week and have little access to the town in the evening by public transport—actually get the youth facilities that residents are asking for in every survey carried out, but which are constantly being delayed?

All that we can do is to encourage the local authorities concerned, and I am sure that my hon. Friend will be doing everything in her power—including asking this question today—to encourage her local authority to apply for the funding. It is extremely important that when these facilities are put in place the young people themselves are consulted, along with the local community. May I add that the local Member of Parliament should be consulted as well?

Will my hon. Friend congratulate the friends of Westy park, who are involving local young people in a major project to draw up plans for play, sports and leisure facilities in one of the most disadvantaged wards in Cheshire? Those facilities are urgently needed.

I am happy to do so. It is clear from the research that has been undertaken that, where young people are involved—whether in the design or in the management and running of a facility—the projects are much more successful. That is why young people are an integral part of the myplace initiative.

Notwithstanding the admirable efforts by the hon. Member for Warrington, North (Helen Jones) to improve the lot of young people in her constituency, why did the figures released last week by the Youth Justice Board show a 45 per cent. increase in youth crime in the Warrington area, with crime by girls up by 60 per cent., and a 27 per cent. rise in hospital admissions in Warrington for alcohol problems involving children in the past three years? Chlamydia rates have risen by 50 per cent. in the north-west over the past five years. Those figures are, sadly, replicated across the rest of the country. Are not the Government failing our young people in that, rather than promoting youth facilities with urgent education programmes to encourage responsible attitudes to sex, drinking and youth crime, they seem more intent on demonising young people yet again by staging desperate stunts with fake hoodies in Crewe?

The hon. Gentleman is wandering rather off piste. Nevertheless, let me deal with the issue of Warrington. I think that the whole House would want to join me in expressing sympathy to the Newlove family in respect of what we all recognise as an appalling case that took place there recently. The key is to work in partnership, nationally and locally, to try to solve these problems. That means that there are local responsibilities as well. We are playing our part nationally with record investment in youth facilities and we will soon publish our new youth alcohol action plan. The Government are doing their bit; it is also necessary for it to happen locally.