Young people go on the offensive as they fight to save their group from Fenland District Council axe

Petition to save Fenland Youth Council

Petition to save Fenland Youth Council - Credit: Archant

Teenagers running Fenland Youth District Council say they feel let down after discovering that among councillors who voted to axe the organisation was the former portfolio holder for children and young people.

Councillor Michelle Tanfield with Sophie Dawson, Ben Martin and Claire Bennett. From 2014

Councillor Michelle Tanfield with Sophie Dawson, Ben Martin and Claire Bennett. From 2014 - Credit: Archant

The group has used a Freedom of Information request to identify the 23 Fenland councillors who agreed with abolishing the youth council in a bid to save money.

Ben Martin, finance officer for the youth council, said he followed the FOI route after this paper’s successful campaign to identify those councillors in favour of paid parking.

“Overall 23 councillors voted to abolish the YDC, including Councillor Steve Garrett who used to be the portfolio holder for children and young people,” said Ben.

“Also on the list of those in favour of abolition was Councillor Kit Owen, who had personally commented on the Wisbech Discussion Forum (where the petition to save YDC was originally posted) that he was ‘proud of what had been achieved’” (by the YDC) and that he was ‘hopeful a solution will be found’

Youth District Council members with Fenland District Councillors and senior officers outside Fenland

Youth District Council members with Fenland District Councillors and senior officers outside Fenland Hall. From 2014. Council leader John Clark told them: Its wonderful to see so many young faces here - and I hope that one day you will take our place when we all head off into the sunset. - Credit: Archant

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“There are a number of other councillors on the list who have been very vocal in their support of the YDC at our meetings.”

Ben added: “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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Those in favour of abolition:

Cllr Mrs Sarah Bligh

Cllr Chris Boden

Cllr Mark Buckton

Cllr Ralph Butcher

Cllr John Clark

Cllr Mrs Sam Clark

Cllr David Connor

Cllr Steve Count

Cllr Stephen Court

Cllr Mrs Maureen Davis

Cllr Mrs Jan French

Cllr Steve Garratt

Cllr David Hodgson

Cllr Miss Samantha Hoy

Cllr Mrs Dee Laws

Cllr Mrs Kay Mayor

Cllr Peter Murphy

Cllr Kit Owen

Cllr Andrew Pugh

Cllr Rob Skoulding

Cllr Will Sutton

Cllr Garry Tibbs

Cllr Steve Tierney

Those who voted keep the Fenland Youth District Council, but without grant funding:

Cllr John Clark

Cllr Steve Garratt

Cllr Simon King

Cllr Mrs Dee Laws

Cllr David Mason

Cllr Mrs Kay Mayor

Cllr Alex Miscandlon

Cllr Rob Skoulding

Cllr Steve Tierney

Ben said the FOI also requested a breakdown of the figures quoted in the original comprehensive spending review (CSR) document that abolishing the YDC would generate a saving of £56,000.

“We have received some very limited information on this, but we have submitted a further FOI asking for a detailed list of the ‘running costs’ which were quoted as being £12, 600,” he said.

“We are also investigating whether the whole cost of one member of staff should be attributed to the YDC ‘saving’ when both staff members in the Community Support Team have multiple roles within the service, only one of which is the YDC liaison role among many others.”

He said: “We genuinely believe that our members should at least have been given the opportunity to put forward alternative solutions which could still generate savings from the overall YDC budget, but with the YDC remaining in place to continue the excellent work it carries out throughout the year.”

YDC has been going 10 years and YDC says have listed what they believe to be some of its achievements since it’s formation in July 2006; Ben says “I hope it will show that we are more than simply a group of young people who meet six times a year and cost the council a lot of money for little return”.

•Distributed grants to the value of £80,000 to 122 applicants benefiting 1000’s of young people in Fenland

•Between 2008 - 2011 represented Fenland at the popular Youth Fairs

•Have supported both financially and strategically the road safety campaign 2Young2Die, and taken part in a number of events for Road Safety Awareness Week

•Have hosted four employability skills events which gave 350 year 10 pupils some of the skills they would need when they entered the workplace

•Have hosted six Democracy Day events where over 400 year 9 and 10 pupils learn more about the democratic process

•Have supported, and this year judged and presented the Young Person of the Year award at the Pride in Fenland ceremony

•Have met with a number of local, national and international dignitaries including Lord Rowan Williams in our roles as ambassadors for the young people of Fenland

•We have been consulted by various partners on a range of matters which involve young people, including the Cambridgeshire Child Poverty Strategy, Citizens Advice Bureau on their financial strategy in Fenland and the impact on young people, NHS on stop smoking initiatives in schools, the P&CC on their youth engagement strategy

•In addition to this the YDC also support the Golden Age Fairs in a cross generational partnership which brings communities closer together.

Ben said: “Whilst we understand and appreciate that savings need to be made, we feel that the comparatively small saving abolishing the YDC would generate is far outweighed by the negative impression the young people of Fenland will be given that they, their opinions and their futures do not matter to the elected councillors of Fenland District Council.”

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