Chairman of Fenland Road Safety Campaign says abolishing Fenland Youth District Council would be a ‘deeply regrettable development’

Graham Chappell.

Graham Chappell. - Credit: Archant

The chairman of Fenland Road Safety Campaign has hit out at a proposed move to axe Fenland District Youth Council, calling it ‘a deeply regrettable development’.

Graham Chappell has been campaigning for improved road safety across Fenland for many years and believes that axing the youth wing – which was established 10 years ago – is not the way to save money.

Fenland District Council plans to free up £56,000 by closing the group, but Mr Chappell says the group is vital in giving the young people of Fenland a voice.

He says: “FDYC is a vital exercise in engagement of young people, in a Fenland-wide collaborative and constructive process. By local authority standards, the budget that has been available to FYDC has been a very modest, but vital investment in our community, and vote of confidence in our young people.

“Fenland has one of the highest young road user fatality rates in the UK, and our Youth District Council has provided invaluable support in trying to change this by promoting uptake of the road safety awareness programme we now offer to our local schools.

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“To simply disband FYDC and terminate its budget would be a deeply regrettable development. Of course there is serious budgetary pressure at the moment - that is not the fault of Fenland District Council - but when the adults in a family have to tighten their belts, in difficult times, they normally do so, in order to continue providing as best they can for their children.”

Mr Chappell believes the council should be kept alive – but on a smaller budget.

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He said: “FYDC should not be killed off, but kept alive - perhaps working to a reduced budget - helping to keep our young people engaged in constructive local service, with minds focused on the preciousness of the resource they have access to, rather than excluded from the process when things have got tough for us all.”

The council’s plans were met with anger by the youth council’s members, who said they felt “let down” after a Freedom of Information request put into the council revealed that one of the councillors who voted to close the group was in fact former portfolio holder for children and young people, Cllr Steve Garratt.

Ben Martin, finance officer for the youth council, said: “Overall, 23 councillors voted to abolish the YDC, including Councillor Steve Garrett, who used to be the portfolio holder for children and young people.

“All of this has left the members of the YDC feeling very let down and disappointed that councillors are not consistent in their opinions when they are dealing with us in a face-to-face situation.”

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