Street gangs warning if Tower Hamlets mayor takes back youth service

Street gangs could return to London’s East End after last summer’s riots if Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman goes ahead with his bid to stop communities running the council’s youth clubs, councillors have been told.

The warning was originally sounded by George Green’s Secondary head teacher Kenny Frederick on the Isle of Dogs in March after 2,000 youngsters, teachers and youth workers signed a petition against the Town Hall centralising the clubs currently contracted to be run by three schools and a housing group.

Her warning was repeated by Labour’s Cllr Rachael Saunders at last Wednesday’s council meeting.

“Listen to the head teacher on the Isle of Dogs who said gang violence will increase on the streets,” Cllr Saunders urged the meeting.

“It’s better to sit down and talk to local youth providers rather than bring everything in house.”

The reasons given for centralising the youth service included “assertions that money would be saved.”

But Opposition councillors say there’s no evidence for this and no firm numbers given.

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Community providers contracted to run youth activity such as schools and a housing association had been successful working with the police to occupy youngsters outside school hours and off the streets, councillors heard.

The council voted to oppose the centralising move and called on the Mayor to hold consultations with young people before deciding the future of the youth service.