'Don't throw us on the streets' youths in E1-E2 postcode war urge Tower Hamlets council
PUBLISHED: 11:03 27 July 2016 | UPDATED: 11:03 27 July 2016
Teenagers caught up in a "post code war" were out on the streets in London's East End protesting at their youth centre being closed down along with claims of 17 other centres facing the axe by the local authority.
They stopped traffic at a pedestrian crossing outside Stepney Green’s Harpley youth centre in Globe Road on Monday evening with banners, ironically at the place that had kept them off the streets but was now closed.
Police arrived to warn them about obstructing traffic with their protest.
Harpley centre’s three youth projects are being switched by Tower Hamlets council to neighbouring Columbia centre 10 minutes away in Bethnal Green, the other side of the railway bridge.
But the ‘E1’ teenagers—who protested with placards in the public gallery at last Wednesday’s council meeting—fear for their safety walking into the rival ‘E2’ neighbourhood just 500 years away.
“Columbia centre is in a different post code,” protester Naheda Islam told the East London Advertiser.
“It’s only 10 minutes away, but there’s been a post code war for 10 years. I feel unsafe going to E2. My mum won’t let me.
“You don’t even have to be part of a gang—it’s just that you’re from another neighbourhood.
“We don’t like the post code war, but can’t ignore it.”
Naheda was one of the youth delegates turning up at the Town Hall to lobby the mayor.
The council denies plans to close 18 centres, but is having to tackle the corruption in the youth service uncovered since the new mayor took office last year.
Mayor John Biggs told the council: “We inherited an utter shambles from the previous administration.
“It’s a story of neglect and mismanagement over a long period and quite improper behaviour.
“Large sums of money have been lost as a result of bad practices in the youth service.”
But the young delegation said they felt “betrayed” with funds going to other organisations rather than keeping youth centres open.
Youth council member Amar Amine, 18, told councillors: “I don’t see what corruption has to do with young people.
“We suffer from the consequences of corrupt officials—if the youth centres need to be fixed, then fix them, don’t close them down.”
The council is funding 16 more youth projects, they were told, but some youth centres just weren’t functioning and needed to be replaced.
A report on the future of Tower Hamlets Youth Service—the second largest in London after neighbouring Hackney—was being prepared in the autumn following the Town Hall investigation into corruption and mismanagement.