Pay your own way

Devon County Council’s Youth Services feel unable to accept financial help from Honiton Town Council to pay for entry fees for the town’s youth centre.

Young people will have to pay their own entry fees when Honiton Youth Centre introduces charges in January - unless they can prove financial hardship.

Honiton Town Council had hoped to cover the 30p entry cost, but, following discussions with Devon County Council’s youth service, that recommendation has been revised.

Instead, the town council will provide a grant of �2,000 to allow an intermediate club to be opened up at the centre to cater for young people from the age of 11.

This will be reviewed after 12 months.

The youth service felt it was unable to accept financial help towards entry fees and local leaders said they would not feel comfortable if youth centres within the eastern team had a different policy, which would create differentiation.

It was also felt that the main priority at this time should be to ensure the ongoing security of the centre as a facility.

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The council has also agreed to make available a fund of �500 to cover entry costs for those genuinely unable to afford the new charges.

Councillor Sharon Pavey, who was involved in drawing up the original recommendations, said: “I don’t support it in any shape or form. As a council, we all agreed to support youth services and agreed to pay for the new charges.

“We have spoken to them about it and they have said ‘no thank you’. They just went by the way we could bring in a new programme for youth services.”

The youth club currently provides services aimed at 13 to 19-year-olds.

Councillor Marianne Harman said: “We would be giving money that only benefits a small number of people and there are other organisations in the town that would benefit more people with that money.”

The deputy mayor, Councillor David Foster, added: “The youth centre helps reduce anti-social behaviour and benefits more of the community as a whole.

“It is not just about helping young people who can’t afford it, it’s looking to help assist services for a younger user group not being offered help.”

Councillor John Zarczynski said: “We are not just here to serve the retired; this is for the future of Honiton and, as a council, we will be doing the right thing by helping them.”