Process begins to save youth services in Bridgnorth

Bridgnorth Town Council has begun the process of ensuring that a youth club remains in the town after Shropshire Council withdraws its funding next year.

Councillor Julia Buckley
Councillor Julia Buckley

But councillors stressed that Tuesday's vote did not mean that it would definitely be handing over funding.

The council voted 7-5 to work with Shropshire Council to prepare an invitation for bodies to quote to run an open access youth club for Bridgnorth. It also voted to restart the Bridgnorth Youth Partnership and to approach the Bridgnorth Boys Club to ask to to join the partnership."

Shropshire Council is withdrawing funding for youth groups across the county at the end of March and is asking town and parish council to fund them.

Its youth money will instead be used for targeted support through outreach/detached youth work – meeting young people wherever they are, in schools and in places where they choose to congregate.

In a motion to Bridgnorth Town Council, Councillor Julia Buckley proposed that the council set aside £15,000 for one year only to fund the open access youth club at Innage Lane.

She said the motion was for a one off, 12-month contract, in view of the problems young people and their families would face post Covid and that if funding was not found

"This amounts to a six per cent increase in the council tax precept an average of £8 a year per household," she said.

"It is the only secular club where you don't have to be sporty, religious or wear a uniform , a place you can go where you feel safe," she said.

Councillor Buckley said the council funding was being targeted to stop young people falling into gangs or crime.

"There are a lot of people who don't fall into any category but will have no place to go."

"We would have to ensure it became self sustaining, we can make this work for the future."

Councillor Carol Whittle spoke out against the funding.

She said: "Those who use the youth club are less than one per cent of the youth of Bridgnorth. We have so many thinks going on for youngsters in Bridgnorth, wonderful places for youngsters to go.

Support

"We have to consider the finances of our residents."

Councillor Clive Dyson said he would rather see the council agree to underwrite a certain amount and suggested £7,500.

"This doesn't commit us to spending a penny. We should look at how we can support organisations to attract external funding."

"It is not good for us to give open cheques."

Councillor Sarah Barlow said that she was concerned about the nostalgia surrounding the Innage lane Youth Club which she had attended as a child.

"The decision to get rid of the building is out of our hands. If we put this money forward it doesn't mean that the club will continue as it has for the last 40 years," she said.

"The sum of £15,000 would not provide two youth workers and a building and all the different activities."

Making a decision before setting the annual budget was wrong, Councillor Edward Marshall said.

"We are not a bottomless pit of money and I do not see how the funding would make a difference to the anti-social behaviour."

"I am not happy making a decision before we consider our budget."

Supporting the youth club was Councillor Helen Howell who said she had helped at a youth centre.

"One of the benefits of organised youth cubs is that there are adults other than there parents or teachers that they can talk to."

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