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Armley: Green Party deputy calls for youth services investment to tackle knife crime

By Connor Briggs

The Deputy Leader of the Green Party has called for ‘real investment’ in youth services following the recent knife crime which has seen two people die in Armley.

Zack Polanski was visiting Armley today to back his party’s local election campaign.

On Friday night an 18-year-old man was stabbed to death on Hall Lane, and a 16-year-old boy seriously injured.

The incident came a fortnight after 17-year-old Trust Gangata was killed at a house party in Armley. Four men are awaiting trial after being charged with his murder.

Zack Polanski visited Armley Town Street today: Photo: Connor Briggs

Mr Polanksi called for more money to be spent on youth services to tackle the issue. He said: “[The] violence is horrific and it’s something that needs to be taken incredibly seriously.

“When people haven’t got places to go, that’s when problems can start to happen in terms of anti-social behaviour. So making sure there are places to go, good community networks. 

“Also, investing in local public services. The best people to know about youth difficulties are social services or youth services.

“13 years of austerity, both at the national level but also cutting local council’s budgets, means these problems have been exacerbated. Ultimately these problems can only be solved both through investment but also by making local community voices be embedded in local communities to work with young people or adults being involved in this anti-social behaviour.” 

Mr Polanski’s visit follows Cllr Lou Cunningham switching from a Labour councillor to a Green councillor last December. 

He said: “I’ve come to Armley to support our local candidates. A vote for Green is a vote for the local community, whether it’s speaking up for green space or making transport more affordable and accessible. Having a Green in your community is someone who will be a vital person speaking out on behalf of residents.” 

Armley Green Party candidate Lou Cunningham was also present for Mr Polanski’s visit. She told WLD: “When you’re a Labour candidate, there’s probably more resourcing and more funding and things like that. With the Green Party, it’s more about building on the grassroots work I’ve already been doing and working in a more collaborative way.

“For me, it’s not about campaigning against anyone, it’s about continuing to be here for the community and having that real desire to carry on the work I’ve already started.” 

The council elections take place on Thursday, 4 May 2023.

Armley Labour Party have selected local resident Andy Parnham as their candidate to stand in the ward at next month’s election.

WLD will be approaching all election candidates to write about why they feel they should be elected closer to 4 May.

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