Youth councillors get taste of choices facing Fenland District Council during challenge

YDC members juggle priorities.

YDC members juggle priorities. - Credit: Archant

Teenagers were given an insight into the difficult budgetary decisions facing Fenland District Council when they took part in a two-part challenge.

Members look on as Shannon Barrow signs the pledge.

Members look on as Shannon Barrow signs the pledge. - Credit: Archant

The challenge intended to replicate the choices Fenland District Council face as they draw up their 2014-7 corporate plan, which sets their priorities for the next three years.

They were split into two groups and from the outset sharp differences of opinion emerged between them.

Supporting local businesses was ranked fourth by one group and 13th by the other, while CCTV placed second and tenth.

But the choices became even harder when it came to them deciding where to make the necessary cuts.

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Each service had a notional cost attached to it, designed to show how expensive it was to run.

The councillors were allowed to remove some money from a service if they could explain what parts of it could be removed or how it could be run more cheaply.

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Shannon Barrow, YDC’s chair, said: “Obviously, when you are deciding priorities for the whole community it is hard to take in everyone’s opinions.

“I found this exercise intriguing, seeing the extreme measures and decisions councillors have to go through to please everyone.”

Councillor Steve Garratt, FDC’s Cabinet member responsible for the YDC, said: “These young people should be congratulated for the mature way they tackled these issues.

“Soon it’ll be up to the rest of us to face up to the same task for real – and it won’t be any easier.”

At the same meeting all the YDC members present signed a new “Youth District Council Pledge”, committing themselves to a basic set of principles and conduct.

The pledge includes striving to attend all YDC meetings, responding promptly to all inquiries and keeping schools and youth groups fully informed of its activities.

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