THE Hunts Post rightly gave front page coverage to St Neots Town Council’s decision to offer space to the museum rather than create a much needed facility for the young people of the town.
The fact that our museum is smaller than St Ives’s museum is far more pressing than the current record levels of youth unemployment. But to remind the council: 30 years ago a similar situation developed, sadly resulting in riots in Brixton, Toxteth, Moss Side, Chapeltown in Leeds and Bristol St Paul’s.
At the time I was working for The Prince’s Trust developing the Youth Business Trust. Not much support and interest was shown then, yet it has been a source of countless opportunities for young people since.
I subsequently represented The Princes Trust in Cambridgeshire for 15 years, for the last four as county chairman, so I have some experience in this field.
On October 12, 2011, the Office for National Statistics stated “unemployment among young people is increasing twice as fast as the workplace as a whole”. It also stated that unemployment rates for ages 16-24 are the highest since comparable records began in 1992.
Also, on that day, the CIPD (the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) stated that “youth unemployment has now passed the million mark”.
I am sure the museum put forward a compelling case but at a time when young people in St Neots desperately need advice and support, and when youth services and funding to voluntary organisations are being cut, it is beyond belief that the only help the council seems willing to offer its young people is the chance to study the past rather than invest in their future.
MICHAEL van de KERKHOVE