Bilton residents petition for youth club to reopen in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour
A petition has been launched to reopen Bilton Youth Club in response to an alleged rise in anti-social behaviour problems in the area.
Resident Chris Kitson shared the petition in the Bilton Community Group on Facebook, asking people to sign it to show support for the reinstatement of local youth services.
He wrote: "Calling all Biltoners! Now that the local by-election is over please can we all sign the petition below to encourage our leaders to get behind this campaign and restore our services for young people - starting with the restoration of Bilton Youth Club as a much needed facility for teenagers.
"The elected candidate, Councillor Matt Scott, has offered to do what he can to support the campaign but we need to show there is a demand for it. Please add your name and help our community to build back better!"
So far 239 signatures have been collected, with a target of 400.
The petition is addressed to both Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council.
A post on the petition homepage reads: "10 years ago Bilton had a thriving and popular youth club that had been enjoyed by generations of local people for more than 50 years.
"In 2012 it ran three nights a week from 7.00 pm 'til 9.30 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays and provided local teenagers with somewhere to go, something to do and somewhere to socialise.
"From football to table tennis, camping trips to fishing trips, mountain bike trails to canoe expeditions, model club to chess club, and leadership training, it offered a range of activities and opportunities that are no longer on offer to the present generation of teenagers....We need to provide hope and support for the youth in our communities and we can only do that if we are prepared to spend money for them, these services should be available to all regardless of income."
The petition has been sponsored by Harrogate and District Green Party.
It comes after a spate of incidents involving anti-social behaviour in Bilton, particularly in the Bilton Lane, King Edward’s Drive and Woodfield Road area.
Residents have raised concern about this in recent weeks, with shop owner Andrew Hart telling the Harrogate Advertiser "enough is enough" and calling for more police to patrol the streets to combat the issue.
More than 70 comments have been added beneath the petition post in the Facebook group, with many people sharing their memories of the Youth Club and supporting the initiative to bring it back.
Kimilla Kim wrote: "Absolutely agree, the youngsters need these services back otherwise they start causing mischief."
Jamie Pickles added: "The kids need somewhere to go on a evening time and the Youth Club needs to reopen."
However, some people have questioned whether young people would actually use the resource and have suggested that younger people be asked for their opinion on the subject.
It has been suggested that the Youth Club, which closed 10 years ago, may not be the most modern solution to tackle the problem and that children may prefer an alternative option.
Graham Hyde commented: "Things have changed in 10 years, things have changed in 1 year. Just because you had something 10 years ago doesnt mean its appropriate now."
He is calling for the community to pull together to ask more young people in the area what they think would work for them, with suggestions such as creating a new online group and approaching local schools.
Last month, Bilton resident Dani Paisiz told the Harrogate Advertiser that although she had not personally seen a rise in anti-social behaviour problems, she felt a more empathetic approach needed to be taken to tackle the issue.
She said it is important to be understanding of people’s circumstances and the hard times we are all currently living through, particularly during the pandemic.
Dani suggested that reopening Bilton Youth Club and having more on offer for young people to do could be the answer.
She added: “This has been the hardest year of any of our lives so it is no surprise there has been a big rise in things like drug use and mental health problems.
“I think we should all be working together to help our young people and giving them things to do so they don’t resort to this kind of behaviour.”
The petition can be found at: www.actionnetwork.org/petitions/bring-back-bilton-youth-club/?fbclid=IwAR3GkJOCrfIvsyARrWGniTO8Xez81MSLzMJrrxAlx4A81_U5w7YTw3bbg80
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