How do we deal with a problem like this?

On Tuesday 8 December, there was an incident when a young girl was hit by a rogue teenage motorbike rider on the footpath between Chadwell St. Mary and Blackshots where it goes past the Woodside Academy primary school. The girl was treated by the ambulance crew at the scene but fortunately, didn’t need hospital treatment. It could have been a lot worse…

This is how the incident was covered in the local media: Rogue riders clash with parents after child is hit in Grays close to school and: School’s message after rogue rider collision with pupil: “We would like to stop it before someone is seriously hurt or worse”. Reading the first report, it would seem that the rider had a bit of a lucky escape from some instant community justice…

Back in early November, we wrote this piece about the issues posed by off road bikers: Contested spaces… While off road bikers may or my not, depending on your point of view, be considered a nuisance, the sods riding bikes along public footpaths used by pedestrians in built up areas are an absolute menace. We live in troubled times and being able to feel safe in our neighbourhoods goes some way to helping us cope with what life is throwing at all of us at the moment.

The last thing any of us need is a small rogue element of disaffected youth engaging in the kind of anti-social behaviour that spreads fear in a neighbourhood. This kind of anti-social motorbike / moped riding has been going on round here on and off for a good few decades now. In better times, it just got shrugged off. In difficult times, it can be the straw that broke the camel’s back as was seen when angry parents clashed with the anti-social sod who knocked the girl down.

Obviously the cops are taking up the matter. The cops have been doing this on and off for a few decades and the problem is not going away. That’s because the cops are addressing the symptoms of it, not the cause. The cause being that small minority of renegades in our midst who have no idea of what the concept of community means, let alone any sense of responsibility towards it. From bitter experience we know that it only takes a couple of rogue households in a street to have a disproportionate impact on morale and the feeling of safety in a neighbourhood.

At the end of the day, it will have to be the community who deal with the issue in a way that will bring it to a halt once and for all. That means sending out a clear signal that behaviour like this will not be tolerated. There are many ways in which this can be done and it’s down to the community to decide which methods are the most effective. It can be all stick or in some cases, it can be a combination of stick and carrot if it’s clear that the parents / guardians need support in raising and looking after their kids.

The point is that in hard times, we all need to pull together to help each other get through. With the services we have relied upon being cut or disappearing, we’re increasingly being left on our own to deal with the dysfunctional households that are in our midst. This is why over the years, ever since our days in the Independent Working Class Association, we’ve been banging on about the need to build neighbourhood solidarity. Now is the time we really need to up the ante on this because ultimately, all we have is each other…

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