Willing to help youth - but not to become a cash cow

Honiton Town Council discuss measures to help Honiton Youth Centre.

Honiton Youth Centre could be given a helping hand by Honiton Town Council when charges are introduced.

The issue was discussed during a meeting last week, following an announcement that centre users would be charged 30p a sessionwould be introduced from January, which will increase to 50p in April, as part of Devon County Council cutbacks.

Councillor David Foster suggested that money, which was put aside for community groups and projects affected by budget cuts as part of the precept, be used to support the youth centre.

He said: “As the council put aside an amount of money to deal with cuts. It is money we can put aside to keep it free of charge.

“These cuts are going to happen. We need to be looking at ways that we can put money aside.”

Councillor Foster added: “When we took the decision to put �9,000 aside, we had already made the decision to support things in the town.

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“This is a prominent example of people who may suffer from the cuts. We all made the decision to fund this sort of thing.”

By introducing the new charges, the youth centre could generate up to �2,000 after suffering a budget cut of seven per cent.

However, concerns were raised by Councillor Vernon Whitlock over whether the town council could afford to do this on an ongoing basis without raising the precept.

Councillor Vivienne Ash proposed setting up a fund for young people who could not afford the charges.

Councillor Peter Halse requested that a report be prepared on the club’s activities, youth leaders and the numbers that use it to help the council make a decision.

He said: “If we can’t afford to subsidise our young people it is a pretty poor show.

“The danger we have got is becoming the county council’s cash cow and the council will milk us more and more every year and we are not going to be very happy about that.”

He added: “I would be very sorry if we did not go out of our way for young people who are very vulnerable in today’s world.”

The youth centre currently runs sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays for different age groups.

Councillor Nick Cornwell said: “I would be much happier helping a project than subsidising county council cuts across the board. We could be setting ourselves up to always help out. It does need to be thoroughly looked at.”

The town council will discuss the youth centre at its next policy meeting in November.