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Camden New Journal - COMMENT
Published: 12 June 2008
We must find funds to help youngsters

SURELY, there is a contradiction between the anger over knife crime and actions by our Town Hall leaders?
This has been blindingly illuminated by recent decisions to cut funding for youth centres.
Few would contend youth crime would disappear if only more youngsters were kept off the streets and tempted to use imaginatively run sports and amenity facilities.
The causes of crime are too complex for such an easy solution.
But, equally, who could deny that if such facilities are closed down – more worryingly in the summer weeks – the problem of youth crime is more than likely to become exacerbated?
Yet, this is exactly what has been done in recent weeks by the Lib-Dem and Tory coalition.
Apart from the closure of the Highgate Newtown Juice Bar and the threat to Castlehaven Road and the Roundhouse youth centres, we now hear how activities at the Weekend Arts College, which takes in hundreds of teenagers, have had to be drastically cut because of the withdrawal of Town Hall funds.
Celia Greenwood, who runs WAC, is right to be worried.
She and her colleagues – who have done such splendid work in recent years in offering dance, music and art classes – know how to motivate and inspire teenagers.
They should be given every encouragement. But the council, perversely, is doing the exact opposite.
It is true it faces financial constraints. Central government provides far too little help.
But given the will it should still be possible – within the existing budget – to keep our youth centres from going under.

Can David go the full distance with Goliath?

ONE by one, essential public facilities are being closed.
The first sweep of the board was made against post offices in the borough.
Now, GP surgeries are in the sights of the cutters.
Gigantism is in the air. Small is no longer beautiful. Everything must be centralised and made much bigger.
Faced with EU restrictions – although these are denied by the powers-that-be – post offices are lined up for the chop. The fact that they are often a lifeline for the elderly is of no consequence.
Big polyclinics are being planned to hoover up small surgeries.
Waiting in the wings, say critics, are large companies like Virgin and Tesco, whose accountants have probably started to work out profit-and-loss projections for such investments.
But there are signs of a rebellion. Protests mount against post office closures. Thousands sign petitions to save surgeries. Can the tide be reversed?

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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