Paul Perkins interviewed by Mishal Husain, August 2011. from The Winch on Vimeo.
’There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society, with a large segment of people in that society, who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that they have nothing to lose. People who have a stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don’t have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it.’ Martin Luther King, Jr.
There has been much analysis of the past extraordinary week in London and across the country, as we start to get to grips with several days of rioting, looting and social unrest. In a funny way, it has seemed as if the rest of life has been put on hold as we observe the emergence of an extraordinary narrative, albeit one which we struggle to pick apart given its complexity and variability.
And complex it undoubtedly is. Few people would disagree with the MLK quote above in principle, but whether it should be judged on a micro, personal level or or on a macro-economic or social level, there appear to be a huge raft of factors which need to be considered. Of course, that’s not stopped a cascade of opinion covering all sorts of different angles (and conjecture) pouring out across the debate, even as we are still discovering what has happened, who has been involved, how it has progressed and so on. Let me give a few examples.
Criminologist and ‘youth culture expert’ Professor John Pitts says the looting is ‘fuelled by social exclusion’. Mary Riddell in the Telegraph blames an indifferent political class and in particular the compounding factor of major recession, citing the fact that Tottenham has 10,000 people on Job Seekers Allowance and 54 applicants to every available job. Behind this scenario, she quotes J K Galbraith on the parallel circumstances of the 1929 economic crash: ‘bad income distribution, a business sector engaged in ‘corporate larceny’, a weak banking structure and an import/export imbalance’ and reminds us that Adam Smith ‘recognised…a well-ordered society [cannot] develop when a sizeable number of its members are miserable and, as a consequence, dangerous’. Stafford Scott in the Guardian suggests ‘deep problems in our youth were being ignored as a black problem’ and goes on to point the finger at ongoing historical social injustices, government cuts, withdrawing Educational Maintenance Allowance payments, the raising of tuition fees and high youth unemployment as factors ‘add[ing] to their sense of isolation and lack of a stake in society’. Philip Blond blames social libertarianism and neo-liberalism.
A resolution to our Thorpe Park question
Whilst most of this has been played out in 140-character lines, I thought it would be easier to clarify in 140 words (or about that).
Yesterday, Kim Mabbutt, our Play Development Officer phoned Thorpe Park to book summer tickets for children on our play schemes. She was told that children would be charged £17.40, apart from disabled children: they would need to pay approximately £8 more, at £25.20. This was not including a carer, who would have to pay the same rate again.
We were pretty sure there had been a mistake so we spent a while on the phone. We sometimes take children to Chessington and Legoland, also operated by Merlin, where we’ve never had a similar problem. However, the operator we spoke to was adamant and even went to check with her manager to ensure she’d got it right. In the end they insisted the prices were as had been quoted, and that if we had complaints we would need to take it up separately. We were provided an email, which we wrote off to.
Hence, we pushed the issue out on Twitter and found, as expected, that people were outraged by this (thank you for being outraged if you were). Thorpe Park were quick to respond and got in touch with us to discuss yesterday’s call. They said that prices given had been wrong (£17.40 related to a child in a group booking whereas £25.20 related to a standard rate for a single disabled child), despite having involved both operator and manager, and apologised for the inconvenience.
So there you have it: Thorpe Park doesn’t charge more if a child is disabled. If you get the right operator. Or failing that, if you kick up a fuss on Twitter.
NB This said, if others have similar experiences they should be reported. I expressed concern to Thorpe Park that this wrong information could also be given (or have been given) out to other individuals and organisations, for whom clarity might not arrive quite so quickly.
What’s Mine from Holly Cocker on Vimeo.