May 23, 2017
Burnham election candidate calls for boost in council youth spending

A Burnham-On-Sea resident has this week called on town councillors to boost its spending on local youth groups and activities in the town.

Speaking at a meeting of the Town Council's Town Projects Committee on Monday evening (May 22nd), Bev Milner Simonds pointed out that the Town Council's latest budget has earmarked 26.69% of its funding on "residents who are dead" through its budget for maintaining graveyards, while 1.2% of its funding goes to "youth provision."

Bev, who is one of several candidates in Burnham South standing in the Town Council by-election on June 8th, said: "I am concerned about the lack of a coherent strategy to support the town’s younger residents."

"I am talking about the needs of children and young people (0-19 years) in Burnham on Sea & Highbridge – how personal development and leisure time activities are being met at present."

"When you look at the nature and extent of provision that already exists for children and young people you will know that there are many groups providing activities in the town but the main barriers for young people to access them are cost and getting there."

Bev added: "I have spoken with key stakeholders in the town and found that services for young people have been hit hard by national and local budget restrictions."

"When you overlay the current situation with the local data trends for future population growth and location, we will have a significant shortfall in local provision – building on the gaps we see already. 35.5% of BoS & H homes do not meet the 2Ha of standard of being within 300m of Accessible Natural Green Space standard."

"The Sea Cadets have been appealing for funding, the Zone been forced to its knees before intervention. There is also a distinct lack of tolerance of young people 'hanging out' in public spaces."

"It was 2014/15 that we last saw a concerted focus on youth provision by this council – establishing a youth council that delivered a wide variety of activities over the course of a year."

"My research has shown that current provision, whilst of a good standard, is limited and not meeting all young people's needs."

"I am calling for a thorough research into current provision, future needs and the delivery of a strategy by this council to support the young people locally. The town council has a role to play in co-ordinating youth providers across the town; ensure quality in services; support communities; and make better use of potential youth spaces."

"The town council’s grant funding should support young people’s stated desire for places to go and things to do; support young people’s access to activities they are interested in; encourage inter-generational relationships; maintain play provision; protect important services such as post natal groups, the toy libraries; and begins the development of youth voice in decisions that affect young people."

She went on to say that the council needs a "Strategic direction for provision by public and voluntary sector of young people’s services, Have the evidence of gaps in service provision that can be used by groups to back funding applications, Address the imbalance that the despite the large number of groups for teenagers locally, we know that there are many young people in the town who feel that there is nothing for them to do, and ensure that local, safe places to play for younger children."

Talking to after Monday's meeting, Town Council Clerk Tatiana Cant said youth funding would be on the agenda of a future meeting to be discussed by town councillors.


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