Thursday, 28 October 2010

Big society and small communities

Accepted an invite yesterday from MacKay Hannah Ltd to chair one of their conferences about measures to tackle Anti Social Behaviour and the potential impact of impending budget cuts. The event began with a bold and thought provoking address from Bill Aitken MSP, who basically attributed the rise in antisocial behaviour and petty crime over the past 30 years or so to the decline of manufacturing and other manual industry. "Work works" as Bill said and it was difficult to disagree that young people with jobs and spending power are less likely to be attracted into a life of petty crime. Difficult to reconcile the views of this prominent Tory MSP with the actions of Margaret Thatcher who actively pursued a policy of dismantling the UK's manufacturing and manual industries in favour of an over reliance on the service and financial sectors. Add to that the actions of the current Tory LibDem government which will undoubtedly increase unemployment, particulalry among the young, and one can see where we are heading, again.

The afternoon session was a much more positive affair with presentations from projects who are actively working with younsgters around Scotland and getting really positive results. There was originally meant to be a panel of MSPs debating ASB and budgets but they had to call off to attend parliament to debate emergency legislation. Personally, I barely noticed their absence and appreciated learning more about the practical work that's actually happening throughout the country.

The early evening was spent at Wester Hailes Community Council's meeting in the local library. They've struggled a bit to become properly established following the demise of the former Rep Council but there are some promising signs for the future. The meeting was also attended by a deputation from the local Youth Forum which ensured a useful and productive debate about numerous local issues.

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