FENLAND Youth District Council (YDC) is backing a nationwide campaign to persuade all young drivers to act more responsibly when they get behind the wheel.

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Grants for youth groups

THE YDC has also approved another series of grants to local groups from its £10,000 funding programme this year. Groups benefiting include:

• March Amateur Boxing Club to help purchase new equipment and to help towards the cost of a gala night to showcase local talent.

• Wisbech-based Families Having Fun group to help purchase various items of equipment and for day trips for the group.

• March, Chatteris and Rural Youth Board to help fund the anti-bullying awareness sessions to be held in Neale Wade, Cromwell Community and Manea Youth Club.

• Young People March (YPM) for an educational trip to Whipsnade Zoo.

• Wisbech Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Group to run a pilot project to offer support to teenagers (15 - 19) who have issues surrounding their sexuality.

The YDC still has a limited amount of money left to distribute this year, so any groups needing funds should get their applications in as soon as possible. For details on how to apply, go to www.fenland.gov.uk/article/3184/Youth-District-Council-Grants or contact Ross McGivern on 01354 654321 (e-mail: r.mcgivern@fenland.gov.uk)

Its members voted unanimously at their last meeting to help promote this month’s Road Safety Week.

They want to spread the message that young drivers need to take more care on the road - and that passengers have responsibilities, too.

Meanwhile, MP Stephen Barclay has launched a petition calling for tougher sentences for careless or dangerous drivers who kill innocent people, like Jamie Butcher from Wisbech.

The YDC decided to act after watching a cautionary DVD and hearing from Graham Chappell, of the Fenland Road Safety Campaign, and Councillor Gavin Booth, chairman of the Fenland Rural Road Safety Action Network.

Now they want the same 2Young2Die DVD shown in all secondary schools in the district during the awareness-raising week, which runs from November 19-25.

Mr Chappell shocked the YDC members with official figures that showed:

• Young men from Fenland (age 15-24) had the highest death rate in the East of England between 2000 and 2004

• A young man from Fenland is more than twice as likely to die as the average male in the region, and over seven times more likely to die than males of a similar age in Cambridge

• There is also a substantial rise in deaths from road accidents for young women both locally and nationally

Liam Wallace, the YDC’s chair, said: “The statistics are really scary and that’s why we agreed to do all we can to promote the 2Young2Die campaign to as many young people as possible. As well as taking more care themselves, they can also influence their parents.”

Schools that have already agreed to show the DVD to Year 11 students and sixth formers include Thomas Clarkson, Cromwell, Neale-Wade, Sir Harry Smith and the County School, March. Others are expected to join them.

Factors that increase the dangers for young motorists and their passengers include speeding for thrills or to impress friends, overconfidence, driving while drunk or drugged and failing to wear seat belts because that is not seen as cool. Too many people also use their mobile phones while driving.

Councillor Steve Garratt, Fenland District Council’s portfolio holder responsible for young people, said: “Youngsters always think ‘it won’t happen to me’ but all too often it does, particularly here in Fenland.

“It’s great that YDC members are playing their part in alerting their peers to the dangers.”

• Road Safety Week is organised by the road safety charity Brake. For details on that and the 2Young2Die DVD, visit www.brake.org.uk

• For details of Mr Barclay’s petition, see www.StopDangerousDrivers.com

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