Tories Declare War on Youth Provision

Tempers flared in the last Full Council meeting of Beverley Town Council before the May elections when the leader of the Conservative group, Cllr Bryan Pearson, objected to a decision made at a previous meeting (which he had not attended) to employ the two detached youth workers who have been providing services to the Town Council over a number of years under an agreement with ERYC.

The issue of the provision of youth services by the Town Council has long been a controversial one, which has always provoked opposition from the Conservative group.

The two youth workers originally provided mobile advice and support to young people around the town on two evenings a week, but this was cut to one evening in the face of increased constraints on the Council’s budget and in spite of strenuous objections by members of the Labour group.

Veteran councillor Jim Whitfield who has long experience of youth work himself, spoke out against criticism of the expenditure. “With the creeping reduction in youth services by ERYC and a focus on family-centred support, the need for direct help for young people has become increasingly urgent.”

The original agenda item was merely the approval of draft wording for an agreement to pay ERYC to administer the ongoing detached youth worker scheme following a previous resolution to take on the two youth workers as employees of the Town Council in the face of their imminent redundancy from the youth service at ERYC.

Chair of Council, Cllr Paul McGrath, acknowledge that employing the two workers directly involved a slight increase in expense compared with the previous arrangement, but it had been the majority view of councillors that this was still a better option than losing this youth provision altogether.

Cllr Pearson went on the attack asking for this decision to be rescinded, but was advised that this was undemocratic and could not be done under the council’s rules of business (the Standing Orders). He then declared that when the new council was in place he would revisit this and ensure that it was challenged and reversed.

This drew a waspish response from Cllr Margaret Pinder, Chair of the Policy Committee, and Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Beverley & Holderness.

“Our decision to continue providing this kind of essential youth service was made both in light of the success of the Town Council’s scheme to date as well as the extreme cuts being made to the youth service by East Riding Council. Cllr Pearson is of the opinion that all the problems facing our youth in the town can be solved by enrolling them in the boxing club in the Burden Road youth centre and by tackling the parents. This is a self-serving and wilfully obstructed approach. The youth centre no longer offers the excellent and wide-ranging provision it used to, which is a great loss to the young people on the Swinemoor Estate. The boxing cub is a useful resource, but it cannot and should not be used as a substitute for proper youth provision for some of our more vulnerable youngsters.”

She went on to add: “I find it extraordinary that, during our recent budget discussions, Cllr Pearson was happy to propose a sum of £10,000 for Christmas Lights (of which the Council is rightly proud), but objects to setting aside considerably less than that to help the youth of the town. It is a damning example of where the Conservative councillors’ priorities lie.”

This article was first published on Margaret Pinder’s blog at http://margaretpinder.blogspot.co.uk/

Listen To Residents On Grovehill Development

With the news that the Grovehill Site is going back onto the market in the summer, Labour Party candidates for the Minster North ward of Beverley Town Council have expressed their views on the development and echoed local concerns about the matter.

The site has gone back on the market after Sainsbury’s plan to use the site for a superstore collapsed, as did an alternative plan for eight shops, restaurants and a pub.

Peter Astell, who is seeking re-election, said;

“I have long expressed a view that a mixed development is appropriate for the Grovehill Site. The site is a fantastic opportunity for Beverley Town Council, East Riding Council and local residents to work together in favour of a development that benefits everyone in Beverley, more than a purely retail development could do.”

Labour councillors on Beverley Town Council has long supported the Grovehill site being used for a mixed development. Between 2011 and 2015, Labour councillors have campaigned on the matter and candidates intend to, if elected, continue during the next term.

The Labour Party continues to support resident’s demands to be involved with the development plans. East Riding Councillors, after the election, should sit down with residents and other concerned bodies to get a better understanding about how the development’s benefits could be maximised.

Ben Cooper, the youngest candidate for Beverley Town Council, argues that a mixed development could provide plenty of opportunities for young people:

“Encouraging an enterprise park could provide job opportunities and apprenticeships for young people that allow skills and career prospects to develop. East Riding Council should work with local colleges and businesses to ensure that any development maximises these opportunities.”

Jackie Heffer argued that the site should also, as part of a mixed development, contain social housing. There is a great need for social housing as around 6,000 households are on the waiting list.

Jackie said:

“Not enough affordable and social housing is being built in Beverley and the East Riding. A moderate social housing development would improve matters. But it is vital that concerns about the overdevelopment of Beverley are listened to.”

She continued: “It is absolutely essential that East Riding Council works with local residents and allow the community to have an input into how the site is developed. This engagement must be at every stage at the development and not just after East Riding Council has indicated its preferred developer.”

Residents are concerned about the effect that a development could have on the natural assets that were created by the site being abandoned. Any development, the Labour Party candidates argue, has to be receptive to these concerns and maintain some aspect of the site as a natural protective barrier.

Ben Cooper reiterated Labour Party candidates’ desire for East Riding Council to involve all concerned groups about the development as early as possible. He said:

“East Riding Council’s record of involving residents in their decisions is poor and I hope that a new administration after May 7th will engage and listen to residents. The site has great potential to bring huge benefits to the people of Beverley, but it must be used wisely and in a way that is sensitive to the demands of Beverley for affordable housing, high-quality apprenticeships and green spaces.”

The Election in Beverley and Holderness

Right across Beverley and Holderness Margaret Pinder, and the Beverley and Holderness Labour Party, is campaigning for people’s votes in the forthcoming general election. Here are some pictures of our campaigning in all weather:

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If you want to follow our campaign, or find out more information, then follow us on Twitter: @MargaretPinder or @BevHoldCLP. Or you can find us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/beverleyholderness.labour or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Margaret-Pinder-for-Beverley-and-Holderness/1440124152942336?fref=ts