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Fair for Youth - Calder Holmes

From Jane Smith

Saturday, 26 May 2012

I felt it necessary to air my views on my recent return to Hebden Bridge this weekend after 12 months and my utter dismay. I am a young woman in my early forties and like everyone else, love the sunshine and happiness this brings.

However, this weekend from Friday 25th May, the main park in HB has been saturated by drunken youths displaying yobbish behaviour and it is still continuing as I write this message (27th May at 23.10).

I have witnessed youths under the age of the legal limit to drink absolutely so drunk they were unable to stand up and youths "skinning up" on the bridge to the park in preparation for the youth event, which took place in the park on Saturday.

What was quite surprising is the police presence during the youth event and still they blatantly ignored them. I really don't feel that such an event is required to enable young individuals to congregate in mass to drink and smoke drugs. I know many people will not agree with my comments but, my weekend has been marred by drunken youths who are clearly out of control and the police need to take action as it is very much spoiling Hebden Bridge not just for me but for a lot of people.

From Julie Thorpe

Monday, 28 May 2012

I was disturbed to read Jane Smith's post about her experiences in the park over the weekend. I was at the Fair 4 Youth all day Saturday - helping a group of young people run a cafe at the event. What I saw was a rather different picture - young people taking responsibility for providing an afternoon of entertainment for their peers.

I'm not saying I didn't see the odd beer can around but I thought the atmosphere was really friendly and not at all 'yobbish'. It was a million miles away from the scenes you see in the city centre of Manchester on a Friday evening.

The vast majority of those taking part where having a lot of fun and not harming or being threatening towards anyone. When it came to clearing up at the end of the day all sorts of young people who I don't even know came and gave us a hand. I'm sorry, Jane, if you felt uncomfortable but I do think you've painted a really lovely event in a light it didn't deserve.

From Zeb Wright

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

I was walking round with my mum helping her clean up at the end of the day and it was certainly not the youths who were being disrespectful. In fact if anything it was the youths who were helping out and being understanding.

As I was walking round with my mum helping pick up rubbish etc. there were a few groups of men and women who would've been in their thirties, who were throwing chairs as we were trying to collect them and bringing them back when we had collected them, some of them even ruder and even older, who had obviously been drinking all day.

I am sure Jane did see young people getting upto no good but would this have been any worse than at any other time at any other place on a very warm day like saturday?

I know a lot of people who helped out to organise this day, myself being one of those people, and it is a shame that all the hard work from the youths has yet again been criticised and demonised on what has been a successful event for three years running, organised by the youth for the youth of our town. Zeb aged 14

From Dave J

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Whilst I wasn't anywhere near the event discussed, I'm with Jane on this one.

I walk through Calder Holmes park on the way to work in the morning and on the way home in the late afternoon. Since the start of the good weather last week, the park has been busy in the afternoon with teens and young adults enjoying the sunshine. There's nothing wrong with that at all. This enjoyment is enhanced by fish and chips, alcohol (by the bucket load), cigarettes, pop, crisps etc. Again, I can't really see anything wrong with this although it's no longer a place I enjoy as there has been a shift in the atmosphere during the last few years, as Jane points out.

The real problem for me is the amount of litter and rubbish that's left behind and is blowing around the park the following morning waiting to be collected by the hard-working park attendant.

There's all the litter from the consumables listed above but the thing that really gets me is the amount of broken glass that I've seen. And it's all over the place. It's not as though there is a shortage of litter bins in the park and chucking it all into a bag – and then the bin - at the end of the session is hardly a big job for those concerned.

Whilst I can't be certain about the ages of the culprits, they are all at the younger end of the spectrum and certainly old enough to know better than to leave the park in such a state. I'm not saying that all youngsters act in this way, but in this case this is the age-group of those involved was mid to late teens and a little beyond.

So, let me ask a question of these people . . . why don't you clear up your litter and broken glass instead of leaving it behind for someone else to shift? And to the parents of these little darlings . . . do you not encourage your kids to pick up their rubbish?


From Allen Keep

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

I wasn't in town on Saturday so I haven't got a first hand impression of what occured. What I will say though, as someone who spends my professional life supporting young people with difficulties and trying to keep them in education, is that I am thoroughly sick and tired of the constant demonisation of our youth.

Perhaps adults need to look a bit harder at their behaviours and consider what role models we are supplying for them?

I certainly don't remember, at 14, having the level of social responsibility that Zeb clearly has - nor would I have been prepared to spend my time cleaning up after other people. I did however indulge in a bit of under age drinking -but then most adults wouldn't have to think to hard to remember they did much the same (or worse) I suspect.

Zeb (and your mum) - Well done! - and good for you for speaking out.

From Andrew B

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Before you all start jumping up and down, yes this is what happens whenever the sun is out; it's a cultural problem in Hebden Bridge and drinking and smoking cannabis in the park is just what some people do.

It all boils down to some parents not knowing/not wanting to know where their children are/what they are doing.

It would be unfair to blame the event itself for the fact that these people were in the park, but the police aren't exactly pro-active with regards to cannabis use in the area are they- you only have to walk round Hebden for an hour and you're guaranteed to get a few good whiffs of someone smoking the stuff!

It doesn't bother me; if that's what people choose to do then so be it. Had it bothered me then I would perhaps have spoken to the police that were present, the local NPT are approachable and I'm sure that had the issue been raised they would have taken action, maybe they had just failed to see what was occurring; they are usually "seen coming" and I would imagine anything that the youngsters shouldn't have had would have been out of site before they approached.

From Colin C

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Jane, I don't think the Youth Fair was the cause of the behaviour you witnessed. From what I saw, the event seemed to attract some of the best of our youngsters. However the usual Hebden park life were still there and contrived to make there presence felt around the periphery of the event.

You'll find that, as others have said, smoking cannabis and drinking heavily on the park is just what a certain section of our children do, along with a number of adults. I see it on a daily basis as I pass through on my way home from work. It's very predictable, it's nearly always there. I know quite a few people with younger children who now travel to Tod Park because HB consistently feels a bit lairy.

It's been discussed several times on this forum in the past, and I'm sad to say that the energies of the town are directed elsewhere. It's a massive elephant in HB's tastefully decorated sitting room.

Frankly, it's easier to talk about the Arts Festival, Town Hall, Picture House, Mr Fekri making a fool of himself in the bank.

There are no easy answers to this, but to accept that there is a problem could be a start.

From Lesley Jones

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

As one of the organisers of Fair for Youth I feel I cannot sit back and read yet again such negative, one sided comments about young people in general without chucking in a few facts.

This event was, with the help of a small group of adults, organised by a group of highly committed young people who had been working together for several months. Some of these young people were out at 7:30am on Saturday morning setting up the event. This included cleaning up the usual unsavoury results of a warm Friday night. Some of these young people also stayed behind to pack up once the event had finished, again, as Zeb says, clearing up. I know that their efforts in all ways have been much appreciated by their peers, a large number of whom also gave up their day to manage and take part in the event itself.

Reading Jane's post though, I find myself wondering if we were actually at the same park on the same day. As Julie says, yes, there was evidence of alcohol around. This was after all an event held in a public place and we could make no restrictions on entry. However, this was brought in mainly by groups of much older members of our community and further afield. And by much older, I mean people in their twenties and beyond. On such a glorious day it was inevitable that others would be using the park who were not connected with the event. I spent much of the day talking to these people asking them to a) be sensitive to the fact that there were much younger people around and b) to take their litter away with them.

What worries me more however is that if, as Jane Smith alleges, she "witnessed youths under the age of the legal limit to drink absolutely so drunk they were unable to stand up and youths "skinning up" on the bridge to the park in preparation for the youth event" whilst at the same time accusing the police present of "blatently ignoring them" then why she did not bring this matter to their attention or talk to one of the adults involved with the event. We were all wearing "crew" tee shirts so it would have been very easy to track one of us down. Surely that would have been a more responsible thing to do rather than turning a blind eye herself and then using this forum to stir up yet more negativity?

I was on the park until 10:30pm on Saturday and yes there was yobbish behaviour, quite a lot in fact but this was entirely from a group of "adults" who should know better and we did have a few words. However I was back on the park at 9 the following morning and was amazed to see that they had left no litter whatsover - perhaps seeing me trudging round with green litter bags had pricked their conscience!

In summary, I remain committed to championing the achievements of our young people. Why should they all be the targets of criticism when, as with any sector of society, there will always be the actions of a small minority that let down the remainder. As a town that prides itself on its community spirit we should be encouraging our young people to get involved in community life, not discouraging them through constant criticism. A significant number of our young people have worked very hard for a number of months to stage this event for their peers and we should applaud them. It has been personally rewarding to seeing them rise to the challenge and to witness the increase in confidence it has given them. Well done to them all.

Update: I have a post script to my last post - mainly in reply to Dave J. Dave - you may remember that during Easter 2011 we had glorious weather such as that we had last weekend. Very early on the Easter Monday, Councillor Janet Battye, then leader of Calderdale Council, and I did a litter pick to assess the impact of a large turn out in good weather. The results were very, very surprising.

It was easy to see, simply by looking across the football field, where picnics had been enjoyed and where many groups of people had simply upped sticks and left. However, as well as the usual collection of cans/bottles/fast food containers, we were astounded to find evidence of young families not taking responsibility for their litter either. Childrens juice cartons, baby wipes, lost dummies. And the odd nappy. Yes you read that correctly. The odd nappy.

So I think before we start blaming any one section of the community for what I agree is a regular, very unpleasant situation on the park, we all need to take a long hard look at our own behaviour and see what we can all be doing about it.

From Richard Scorer (town councillor Fairfield )

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

As the parent of two teenagers who attended the Fair for Youth on Saturday and hugely enjoyed themselves, I endorse everything Lesley says. The vast majority of young people attending this event were very well behaved. Thanks to all those young people involved in organising the event. And a big thanks to you too Lesley and your fellow members of FCHP for your hard work on it.

From Jae Campbell

Thursday, 31 May 2012

As one of those present helping with litterpicking throughout the day, can I say that I found the youth to be extremely helpful and supportive throughout.

When I left about 8pm that night the majority of the rubbish (over 40 bags in total) had been bagged and placed near the bins but there were still a large number of adults in the park who refused to assist.

What I don't recognise is the description of the park being messy the following morning - I came down early Sunday expecting to find some mess left by the adults who'd been still messing around when I'd left and with the exception of some mess on the putting green (which hadn't been there at 8pm as I'd scowered that area before leaving the night before) the park was extremely clean. I spoke to the park worker who confirmed that the park had been left cleaner than he found on most sunny weekends and expressed his personal gratitude to the young people and volunteers who he felt had done an excellent job of cleaning up.

Why not revisit the park this Saturday if the weather remains warm and see what the mess is like at the end of the night or what the workers have to put up with on a normal sunny weekend?

From Paul Clarke

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Anyone who has lived in a city quickly realises even the most annoying yoof round here are pussycats in comparison.

I'm glad the Fair for Youth went well and we should lay off our decent young people.

But there is a significant minority of pillocks/deadbeats who ruin the park for most people and young kids especially.

So could I suggest to our local police that instead of having cosy chats with pompous blokes too thick to use cash cards or harassing mums handing out leaflets they do some community policing.

Now,before the local bleeding hearts get their knickers in a twist I'm not suggesting a heavy handed crack down but some old fashioned intelligence led policing to deal with this issue.

Loads of people believe the police tolerate it on the basis they know where all the deadbeats are.

Maybe if the deadbeats were standing gormlessly in front of a cashpoint or peacefully handing leaflets out to passers by we might see some action.

From Catherine Lee

Saturday, 2 June 2012

I'd like to add my congratulations and thanks to all of our young people and adults who organised the Youth Fair last weekend.

With all of the negativity many of these kids have had to deal with in their day to day school life in the last year or so, I too think it's about time we gave them a break. Our youth are the future and it seems a nonsense to keep demonising them at every opportunity. We have some really wonderful kids here and events like this allow them to have a voice in their local community. They need more opportunities like this and they need our support.

So I would like to say "Well done guys, I'm proud of you!"

From Paul Clarke

Saturday, 2 June 2012

I like to try and be fair where I can so I was pleased to see two police officers in the park last night.

I am not so deluded to think my post on here had anything to do with that but it is hoped it will be a regular beat for them.

Both officers were in a marked van and then to my surprise got out and had a walk around. Sensible low level - but very visible - policing.

Sadly the foul mouthed drunken deadbeats who often sit on the picnic tables near the skateboard park were nowhere to be seen.

But nonetheless full marks to the local community police team.

From Liam Gaunt

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

I back up everything Lesley and Zeb have said, I'm 17 and also helped organise and run the event.

I personally believe these pathetic views on my generation are down to ignorance and being generally narrow-minded.

I use the skatepark daily and i see a hell of a lot more people over the legal age drinking alcohol, smashing bottles and "skinning up" - what makes it acceptable for middle aged degenerates to do it? It is a park after all.

What makes Hebden Bridges youth any worse than anywhere else?

Unless theres any Amish communities in the UK I highly doubt theres many places you'll find where the kids don't like a smoke and a beer on a nice warm day.

From Dave J

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

I was about to respond here with a rant but I expect it will get me nowhere.

So, I'll just say that during the last spate of hot weather I took a few photos (on 4 occasions) of the litter left behind by -and I'm sorry to say this again - some young adults in the park. I am not demonising anyone here as clearly there are a lot of good young adults in Hebden but I know what I saw. No pensioners swigging cider, no families hurling soiled nappies. Just young adults.

Actually, I spotted one family having a picnic and I made a mental note of where they were sat so I could see whether they had left anything behind (God, I'm sounding like Victor Meldrew now!). They hadn't.

If you want to take a look at the photos, you can see them on www.litterinhebden.webs.com

I'll leave them there for a week or so then bring the site down. I should add that this is by no means all of it. Just a 2 minute photo session as I passed through.

Next time we have good weather, check out the park for yourselves. Go at tea-time then again early the following morning and you will see it with your own eyes. It's not a pretty sight.

I'm afraid I don't know how to resolve this. I just know that I hate it. Anyone have any good ideas?

From Jenny B

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Whilst the camera doesn't lie and the photos are truly depressing, the posting of them in this subject thread is perhaps not appropriate. Clearly, the young people involved in the youth event are 'good kids' who respect their environment.

By criticising all youth for the litter problems, it is going to cause the knee jerk reactions that it has.

I don't know the answer either. I despair that anyone would leave such a mess and the broken glass is a serious worry.

Could this be policed better? I know our sparse police cover won't stretch to this, but could a local litter monitoring team be formed to encourage people to use bins etc? What about the good kids acting as mentors to educate the litterers?

Are there enough bins? What about one industrial sized lidded bin? Could we install Recycling points for bottles and cans?

Good social education begins at home. Most of these kids will have been raised with the manners to dispose of their litter properly. If you have teens, or young adults that use the park, show them the photos, or maybe the next photos could be of the people 'enjoying' the park - name and shame. Oh and our silent councillors should surely be acting on this.

From Dave J

Thursday, 7 June 2012

I just have to add one response to Jenny B's message. No-one is criticising all youths. No-one has said that. I am certain it's a small - but significant and very damaging - minority. Please, please remember this point.

From Kim Blackburn

Friday, 8 June 2012

Hello to all "Park People"
I'm so glad to hear the concern for the park it's facilities and discussion on the parks users. Is this really a problem with Hebden Bridge young people or the youth of today?

Socrates said:"Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders, and love chatter in places of exercise. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers."

I feel there's not much to be gained by attempting to place the problems with littering within one social division. I see a community, whilst within communities there's a common belonging there is also a dynamic of us and the others, which if often based around assumptions and stereo typing etc.

You might like to read this web page.

I have worked on Hebden Bridge Park over the last few years (As a detached Youth Worker), and now co run the Cafe on the park. It's a great place to work and being on the park on a sunny afternoon is an absolute pleasure, and certainly not threatening. Infact even I'm surprised by the general politeness and respect I receive from young people.
There are, however, problems to be solved, one of which is the littering of the park, and I'm not suggesting that all the young people are innocent in this, I have challenged them on many occasions, and believe that just challenging littering politely and directly could get us a long way . We do need a solution that solution needs to come about through a process. This discussion could be seen as a good start, which could be continued by The Friends of Calder Holmes Park group. Please join us or our Facebook page to get involved.