Taking Stock - July 16, 2012

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In this trade it’s not uncommon to come across buzz words, often meaningless statements dreamed up by PR types and absorbed into the national conscience.

Respect most certainly is one of those things we hear a lot about these days in a variety of contexts, good and bad.

There’s no doubt the Respect campaign, along with the Kick it Out stance on racism, have done a massive amount to transform football for the better.

But, let’s not forget respect, or a perceived lack of it, was also one of the oft-repeated mantras of last year’s summer rioters – young people who believed society didn’t give them any.

Now, call me old fashioned, but I’ve always believed respect was something earned, not an automatic entitlement.

And young people do themselves no favours when they behave in some of the ways I witnessed last weekend.

The young lady casually, in full view of anyone who happened to be passing, writing on our lovely new Promenade with a marker pen certainly wasn’t showing much respect.

Nor were the group of revellers boozing on the beach at 10.30am last Sunday while my children attempted to build sandcastles nearby.

Nor, might I add, had the people who, the previous night, left our sands strewn with empty bottles, broken glass and a variety of fast food cartons.

I don’t, for a second, want to tar all young people with the same brush.

Every day, in these pages, we see shining examples of youngsters working for and earning the respect of their community.

Which makes it even more sad to see one or two people letting the side down.

Passing the teenager, blissfully ignorant of my presence as she proceeded to scrawl on our sea wall, I was desperate to stop and ask her why.

“Should I come to your town and draw on your house?”, was the sarcastic question I longed to pose.

Of course, fearing the backlash, I did nothing.

I tutted, made a mental note and walked on by.

I now wish I hadn’t.

I wish I’d stood up and taken some pride in the place I live.

I wish I’d said “no more!”

One teenage girl on her own doesn’t make a huge mark.

But imagine if everyone walking down the Prom decided to add their own name, squiggle or inane cheeky message.

Soon our headlands, steps and seats would be lost under a sea of “Shazza woz ere” and “I ‘heart’ Kev”.

Cleaning up graffiti costs a heck of a lot of money and that’s a bill that, every year, we’re picking up.

That’s not to mention the damage it’s doing to our tourist trade.

The same with beach litter and stumbling drunks in daylight hours.

Now, I’m as guilty as anybody else when it comes to falling out of hostelries, but it really isn’t acceptable behaviour at 1am.

Nobody wants to see it shortly after breakfast.

Ignoring a problem, like I did, won’t make it go away.

The sea may wash away rubbish from the sands and our council tax cash may pay to wash writing off the Promenade.

But that’s no solution.

We need to stand up to the people doing these things and show them it won’t be tolerated.

It’s time for them to show Blackpool some respect.