Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New law would give teens opportunities

At this moment, a new law to create new opportunities for young people will be proposed by local Welsh Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black in the Assembly.

Peter won the ballot to introduce private members’ legislation, is putting forward the proposed measure for debate today. If he has been successful, Peter will have six months to work on his outline proposal and bring forward a detailed draft measure.

Peter says: “Talk to young people and they will tell you that there are very few things for teenagers to do or places to go. They want more after school facilities, music facilities and drama groups, youth clubs, better leisure facilities and many more. Where we do not have that provision we are failing young people and we are failing the communities in which they live.

“One of the best examples of the sort of provision I want to see across Wales is the KPC Youth Centre in Pyle, in Bridgend,” he says. “The facility could act as an exemplar of good practice to local authorities up and down the country – yet KPC Youth is not operated by the council, but is run on a completely voluntary basis.

“The facility was started up by Helena Parobij after her 18-year old son died of a drug overdose. Her vision was for a youth centre that would provide an opportunity for young people to escape the kind of boredom that might cause anti-social behaviour, petty crime or drug use.

“When setting up the facility, Helena asked local youngsters what kind of facilities they wanted and the result is a state-of-the-art centre with a music and dance studio, a computer suite, pool and table tennis tables, drop-in cafe, information centre, all-weather pitch, BMX course, skateboard park and much more. It has 750 eighteen to twenty five year olds on its books from Pyle, Cornelly, Kenfig Hill and Cefn Cribwr and a drop in crime has been reported in those communities.“

He acknowledges there is work to be done to make his proposals – which would put a statutory responsibility on local authorities to provide youth services - viable in all parts of the nation.

“In an ideal world, every community in Wales would have its own KPC – but I am pragmatic and realistic enough to know that there will need to be compromises and some leeway given to ensure that my ambitions are able to keep pace with the available resources.”

Peter has already had informal meetings with the WLGA and the Children’s Commissioner who have given their support to the principles behind the measure.

(Peter Black is the third Welsh Liberal Democrat AM to win the ballot to bring forward a measure. The others:

· Jenny Randerson’s healthier school meals measure – the first ever put forward by a non-government AM – will start to be scrutinised in detail by a committee AMs from this week.

· Mike German’s proposal to improve consultation over school closures was thrown out by the Labour-Plaid government before it could be developed in to a draft measure.

Peter won both legislative ballots last time out, and will also be bringing forward a Legislative Competence Order which seeks to give the Assembly powers over local government voting systems. This will be discussed in June.)
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