ANDOVER councillors who have been front and centre in finding solutions to ongoing anti-social behaviour in the town centre are calling for young people’s views to be listened to.

Cllr Iris Andersen and Cllr Stu Waue, who represent Andover St Mary’s on Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) and Andover Town Council (ATC) respectively, say that an approach which incorporates teenage residents of Andover needs to be considered by all involved.

It comes after Hampshire Constabulary announced Operation Solar, a new initiative looking to tackle the issues which have been occurring in the town for several months.

The scheme will use a variety of methods including test purchases of alcohol, community patrols, dispersal orders, and working alongside youth engagement charities.

READ MORE: Police operation launched to crackdown on trouble in Andover town centre

Cllr Andersen said: “I think it would be good if we could talk to these young people, bring them together and ask them what they want.

“No one knows what is going on in those young people's minds. In the last two years, so much has happened and we don’t know what these children have gone through, what they have had to cope with.

“We were all locked up during Covid, and we as grown-ups were frustrated, so I can only imagine how young people felt.”

Acknowledging the continued efforts of the police and council, continued: “Everybody keeps talking about what they think is best for them, but it's grown-ups making their minds up for them and they do have a voice.

“What we need to do is build up trust with these youngsters who are going to be our future. We can’t tarr them all with the same brush and all of these people deserve a chance."

Specifically citing recent problems with graffiti and vandalism in her ward, she added: “We can’t keep taking things away, we have got to get to the root of the problem.”

SEE ALSO: Andover BID welcomes latest police dispersal order

Reacting to the Operation Solar announcement, Cllr Waue added: “I hope it has a positive effect on the atmosphere around the town. I also hope it involves dealing with the perpetrators in an effort to actually change the behaviours around it.”

He continued: “One of the methods of dealing with the perpetrators could even be to take a leaf out of Devizes' book and challenge them, and perhaps their parents, to help solve the problem.

“Many state that young people can't win as they're criticised when they stay in glued to games ajnd phones, and criticised when they go out, but perhaps it's worth considering whether the ones that do stay in are doing so because they're made to feel unsafe or uncomfortable by the troublemakers when they do dare to go out.”

He continued: “I'd personally love to see the Andover Youth Council resurrected, with the secondary schools becoming the ‘wards’, and representatives elected by their fellow students. Part of their remit could even be helping to solve the problem of youth anti-social behaviour, as well as telling the rest of us what they really want from the town going forward.”

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