This is a vast and wide-ranging topic so I’ll only touch on a couple of things.
I don’t feel the answer to the problems we have – for example, anti-social behaviour and drink or drug-related crime – lies solely in legislation. We can fine people for letting their dogs foul the street but some will still let it happen when nobody is looking unless they believe in the value of the legislation.
The concerns we have in Scarborough are not unique to us. We live in a media-saturated, technology crazed society that is so often encouraged to be individual centred, competitive, and market-force led.
I believe education, and not just that in institutions, can be a major force in changing people’s behaviour for the better.
And I think the arts – so under-rated and under-funded at the moment – can be an important part of this education and help people spend their time constructively and enjoyably.
In recent years there have been lots of arts initiatives regionally: music venues and events, festivals, theatre, galleries. But I feel more could be aimed at the younger end of the population, along the lines of the skatepark, and this is something the council could address. This could be part of the brief of an Arts Development Officer (we once had one).
As chairman of the Scarborough Amnesty International Group, I would welcome Scarborough Borough Council being proactive in supporting human rights across the world as some other councils have – demonstrating that we are part of an international movement to improve the world we live in. Involving the local community in this, in particular young people, could give a sense of purpose and help develop social cohesion.