Southwark Soapbox: Residents shocked by ‘astonishing’ lack of services for young people in Newington ward

“Six hours a week after all! It’s ridiculous!”

“Six hours a week!”

“It’s less than a shift!” »


Here are some of the reactions from our focus groups upon learning of the short hours of operation at the Brandon Estate Youth Center, which has hundreds of homes and many vulnerable young people.

  • The News has since investigated what was going on at the youth center – see article below

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There are few public amenities in the area: the Jack Hobbs Center, a facility for everyone on the estate, is also closed most days, and an adventure playground near the Newington Estate is closed for renovation until next year.

When asked why Labor is struggling to keep valuable community spaces open in Newington, Labor candidate John Batteson struggled to answer. He said how important it was for youngsters to stay active, citing his own experience as a footballer, and said school and other activities were also vital.

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Ola grimaced as she heard Mr Batteson’s response, visibly grimacing when she heard him defend his party saying youth activities ‘don’t all have to go through one youth centre’.

Neil was less interested in politics. “Could it be just incompetent people running this thing? Could this be the reason why? That they’re just lazy and incompetent?

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Clare Wood, Green Party candidate, said it was surprising how little the youth center was open, pointing to the large number of young people in the neighborhood left without readily available activities.

Mr Batteson said he didn’t know much about the timing of the Frederick Playground renovation, merely repeating his well-worn point that it was important for young people to have things to do.

  • The News found out what was happening at the playground see the article below

Asbestos-contaminated children’s playground won’t reopen until late 2023

At this point, Liberal Democrat candidate Abdul Gbla accused him of spouting clichés.

“You can clearly tell by the three of us here who is the politician and who is here with the sound bites,” he said. “I mean, come on, mate, you talked about this and that, this and that, but you still haven’t answered the question.”

“Ooh, they get a little fiery, don’t they,” said Brandon Estate resident Kym.

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But when asked what the Lib Dems would do in power, Mr Gbla struggled to answer, simply repeating that the three community spaces “really need to be looked at”.

Ola, a resident of Brandon Estate, gave him little thought. “So what would be his own solution then?” Because he didn’t say anything important and he’s accusing someone else of not answering the question! Nice.”

  • NOTE – The News would like to clarify that despite repeated requests throughout our filming, the Southwark Conservative Party refused to join our proceedings
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