Acton Gardens Residents Express Support for Youth Club

Unhappy about portrayal as NIMBYs in national newspaper

The Bollo Brook Youth Centre.
The Bollo Brook Youth Centre. Picture: Ealing Council

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There has been a significant level of support for a youth club in South Acton after a national newspaper suggested residents were lobbying to have it closed.

The Bollo Brook Youth Centre in South Acton was recently moved in to new premises within the Acton Gardens estate and according to the Guardian some residents are demanding that it be closed down and that it has attracted violence to the area.

The space allocated to the centre is much smaller than before but the number of young people attending has not fallen which means that often they congregate outside. This, the Guardian claims has led to complaints about gangs, fighting and drug use.

The newspaper says a petition to the London Borough of Ealing has been started by residents to ask for the club to be removed and replaced with a tumble dryer facility, a library or a coffee shop. There is no such petition of the Council’s web site and we were unable to find it elsewhere on the internet.

Bollo Brook Youth Centre offers a range of activities for young people including music production, arts and crafts, sports, cooking and gardening, and they provide support and advice including on education and employment. They are currently offering a chance to work with professional studio engineers and producers.

They also run regular projects, including film-making, dance, vocal coaching, poetry writing, cooking and debates.

A number of residents of the estate we have spoken to dispute that there is any meaningful opposition to the presence of the club in the area.

One told us, “This is total nonsense. The portrayal of people in the area as NIMBYs wishing to see increased gentrification of South Acton is a false one. Everybody who has moved into Acton Gardens in recent years will be well aware this is a mixed area socially and many will see this as a positive rather than a negative. It would be a disaster for the area were the club to be shut”

Another resident commented, “Some of my neighbours might see it as an annoyance but nobody actually wants to shut it down. The main issue with the estate is not youth crime but the lack of amenities so the youth club is part of the solution not part of the problem.”

The Guardian quotes 18-year-old Leon, a user of the centre as saying, “We had our little space and we got hoodwinked. I feel sorry for the people who got tricked into buying a house here for £750k. They have been sold that this is going to be the next booming area when really … there’s still the core problems of South Acton here. A lot of people are dying out here man, a lot of people getting stabbed.”

The papers states that two victims of fatal stabbings in 2019, Yusuf Mohamed, 18, and Ayub Hassan, 17, had attended the club and that another stabbing victim recently fled to club to get treatment.

It is believed that gangs from other areas have sometimes appeared outside the youth club but when this has occurred the police have taken action including issuing dispersal orders when their intelligence work indicated there may be a potential issue.
Local youth service workers have blamed the rise in knife crime on deep cuts in spending and a reduction in police numbers. In Ealing, knife crime has increased by a third in three years going from 399 instances in 2015/2016 to 530 in 2018/19 according to figures procured by the South West London Assembly Conservatives.
According to Labour Party figures, the total spend on youth services per person in Ealing was £98 back in 2010. That figure has plummeted to £23 per person according to the latest data.
The Guardian says MPs have found a growing link between cuts to youth clubs and knife crime in England, where there has been a 51% drop in the number of council-supported youth centres since 2011 and a 42% drop in youth service staff.

A spokesperson for the London Borough of Ealing, which operates the youth centre, said, “Youth service provision has been in place in this locality of Acton for many years and the council remains committed to providing youth services, with three full-time youth centres, including Bollo. Our youth centres play an important role in keeping our young people safe, reducing youth offending and helping them into training and employment. We, and the young people who get so much from attending Bollo, would welcome the opportunity to engage with local residents to help address and allay any concerns they may have.”

January 2, 2020

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