Fenland Youth District Council chairman believes cost of running the group is £33,700 - almost half of amount previously stated by councillors

Ben Martin, chairman of Fenland Youth District Council, presenting books to Fenland Councillor Miche

Ben Martin, chairman of Fenland Youth District Council, presenting books to Fenland Councillor Michelle Tanfield, portfolio holder for sports and leisure, for MP Steve Barclay's Read to Succeed campaign - Credit: Archant

The real cost of running Fenland Youth District Council is almost half of the alleged £56,600 previously stated says its chairman.

Earlier this year Ben Martin, 17, led a petition to prevent the organisation being axed due to cuts – it attracted more than 100 signatures.

However, the Wisbech Grammar School student is now questioning the real cost of running the decade-old group.

“Having found out the real cost of FYDC, can you now acknowledge that the real cost is £33,700 and not the £56,600 that was previously stated?” the 17-year-old will ask Councillor Chris Seaton, portfolio holder for finance, at a Fenland Council meeting next week.

Mr Martin, who was previously the FYDC’s finance officer, says he found the figure by contacting the head of housing and community support and the housing and communities manager, and also putting in freedom of information requests.

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“I am asking this question, as the youth district council is currently looking at alternatives for its future after March 2017. In order for us to be able to create a realistic proposal, it is essential that we have correct information.

“Currently, there is a belief amongst members of the public and some Fenland District Councillors that we cost £56,600 and are therefore very expensive as an organisation.

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“However, we cost significantly less than this, and this must be acknowledged for us to move forward, thinking about our future.”

The FYDC consists of elected members of Sir Harry Smith College, Cromwell Community College, Thomas Clarkson Academy, Neale Wade Academy and Wisbech Grammar School.

It was formed in to give a voice to the young people living and studying in Fenland.

The meeting will take place on Thursday July 21.

Support for Fenland Youth District Council

Speaking in February, Ben Martin and Charlotte Brenchley urged others to sign the petition “to change something you care about.

“We financially support a wide range of youth groups across Fenland, from boxing clubs to sea cadets.

“We’ve organised and run events, such as the popular Democracy Day, where we have educated hundreds of young people about the values of democracy.

“Without the YDC, how can young people in Fenland have a voice?”

In April the petition gained support from Graham Chappell, chairman of Fenland Road Safety Campaign, who said axing it would be “a deeply regrettable development.

“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 has been a very modest, but vital investment in our community, and a vote of confidence in our young people.”

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