Mayor intervenes in ‘Anti-Social Youth’ row

Cllr Diogo Rodrigues, Mayor of Bridgwater

Anti-Social Behaviour is once again a hot topic on Bridgwater’s social media with young people once more having the finger pointed generally in their direction. At tonight’s Bridgwater Town Council meeting the subject will be raised with the police. Ahead of this, Bridgwater’s young Mayor Cllr Diogo Rodrigues , intervened in the debate with his own views.

Diogo wrote “I find it interesting that the majority of comments have attributed antisocial behaviour to young people. I feel it’s a shame that the actions of a minority of young people almost speak for all young people, when actually the majority are respectful, well behaved young people.”

A lot has been taken away

The Mayor continued “There is quite a bit for young people to do in Bridgwater and Bridgwater youth council are working on compiling a list of current available activities and provision to raise awareness for young people. (Bridgwater Youth Council being made up of young people by the way). That being said, a lot has also been taken away from young people. I remember ‘Connexions’ which helped me loads when i left home at 17 and helped guide me in the right direction, but that service was also cut. You might know that recent cuts made at Somerset County council included cuts to youth services, specifically hitting funding to the Rollercoaster youth club on Parkway, among other services affecting young people. (Youth services nationally have been cut over and over again in the last few years) “

Stronger Police Presence

Diogo with students at Chilton Trinity School

Responding to Police matters, Cllr Rodrigues said “I completely agree with a few who have said that we need a stronger police presence in the town – to deter all sorts of crime by people of all ages. But honest truth is police numbers have been cut greatly over the last few years and we know they are doing the most they can with limited resources…can I encourage you to write to our police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens asking for more police officers in Bridgwater –  Police have previously advised that if you witness any crime or anything of concern then please report it so they have a log of it and are then better placed to act on it –…/report-a…/…

Detached Youth Workers needed

Cllr Diogo Rodrigues -urges support for detached youth workers

Diogo concluded “I strongly feel that we should reintroduce Detached Youth Workers (something we once had in Bridgwater but was cut along with other youth services) This should be combined with a multi agency approach to working with young people with Sedgemoor District Council at the heart of it. (A brief description of what detached youth work means is below) 

“I would also recommend all of you who have kindly taken part in this conversation to contact your local district councillor and make your views known! (You can find out who your councillor is and their contact details here for Sedgemoor , here for town and here for County.”… 

“Detached youth work is a model of youth work practice, targeted at vulnerable young people, which takes place on young people’s own territory such as streets, cafes, parks and pubs at times that are appropriate to them and on their terms. It begins from where young people are in terms of their values, attitudes, issues and ambitions and is concerned with their personal and social development. It is characterised by purposeful interaction between youth workers and young people and utilises a range of youth and community work methods”. ( The Princes Trust – 1998).”

Skatepark opening
Council leader Brian Smedley with campaigner Laura Costello at the Westover based skatepark

Town commits to Youth and Police

Town Council Leader Cllr Brian Smedley, who will be presenting the Town Budget for 2019-20 at tonight’s council meeting, added “Bridgwater Town Council always has the Police as the first item of the agenda at every meeting and members of the public are welcome to attend and ask questions. The community working with the Police to tackle these issues is clearly the way forward. That said decisions taken outside of the community, such as moving the Police station away from the centre of town has not helped and most people recognise that a Police presence is a critical factor as is a rapid Police response time. Town Council has long prioritised youth work and often picked up where other councils have cut and so we will be continuing with our youth budget, with no cuts and with increased youth engagement through our new Youth Council and at the same time we will continue to work with the Police and at the same time put pressure on other authorities and Government to do the same and to reverse the disastrous cutbacks that have contributed to the current situation.”

One comment

  1. Craig Lloyd

    How refreshing and encouraging to have such a forward thinking supportive mayor and town council. We at Youth Unlimited are achieving amazing outcomes for young people through youth work projects. We are already delivering Detached youth work in Bridgwater and Sedgmoor thanks to Hinkley Point C mitigation funding. Young people have so much to offer. They are the future providers, decision makers and custodians. We should invest in them. Raise their ambitions. Develop their confidence, nurture their wellbeing, provide opportunities for positive social interaction, educate them to make informed positive lifestyle choices. Let’s have more good news stories to inspire our young people please.