Just two weeks before a key by-election, the Labour Council have approved plans for new funding of over £12,000 to Inspire Youth Zone, this on top of a rebate of over £13,000 from business rates.
The funding is being provided to assist the charity to undertake an Outreach Consultation Exercise in the outlying rural areas.
Chorley’s Inspire Youth Zone has been opened over 12 months and was partially funded with over £1m from Chorley Council.
There is no doubt of the success of the venture with over 5,000 members already signed up, however there have been concerns raised and highlighted where those members are travelling from.
The majority of eligible members come from the town centre areas, with only a very small number coming from the outlying areas particularly the Brindle & Hoghton, Lostock and Eccleston & Mawdesley Wards.
|Members of the Youth Zone (% 8 to 19 year olds)|
|Chorley South East||55.16||Pennine||22.63|
|Chorley East||51.39||Clayton and Whittle||22.01|
|Chorley North East||49.57||Heath Charnock and Rivington||21.71|
|Chorley South West||45.38||Wheelton and Withnell||20.45|
|Chorley North West||43.75||Euxton North||19.78|
|Astley & Buckshaw||35.09||Clayton West and Cuerden||15.48|
|Coppull||32.02||Clayton le Woods North||10.95|
|Euxton South||30.13||Brindle and Hoghton||5.24|
|Adlington and Anderton||27.61||Lostock||4.39|
|Chisnall||22.94||Eccleston and Mawdesley||4.28|
Labour labelled the project as “complete” in November 2018
In November 2018 when the Labour-led Council presented their Corporate Strategy, the Inspire Youth Zone Project was highlighted as “Complete”, and no further projects where identified.
No plans from Labour at budget time, and our proposals ignored
In February 2019 when Labour presented and approved their budget for 2019-20, no new money was allocated to the Inspire Youth Zone, despite our Conservative Group proposing to “Improve the borough-wide leisure offer for young people by creating an Outreach from our Youth Zone”, and in our "Statement of Opposition”, by proposing up to £850,000 towards a rural investment fund.
Cllr Martin Boardman, Leader of the Opposition Conservative Group at Chorley Council commented "The Inspire Youth Zone is a huge success and great for the youth of Chorley, this is something we have all supported along with other councillors, however it is clear from the first years membership figures that the facility is being used by the lucky ones who can make their own way to the Youth Zone or those who live in close proximity to it.
We highlighted this risk at the end of 2018 hence why we specifically identified an Outreach project within our Alternate Corporate Strategy and funding to support this work”.
Why just before a by-election?
Cllr Boardman went on to say. “We find it questionable why Labour Chorley Council have now, at this time, decided to fund a project for which they had no budget and no ideas for, but which could be seen to provide support to the youth groups in the rural areas such as Eccleston & Mawdesley, at a time when there is a by-election for a vacant Borough Council seat in the ward.
During the local elections earlier in the year we made clear my intentions to improve youth services and provide local activities for our teenagers and young adults in our rural ward.
Although we are sure this funding is welcome by the operators Inspire, it will not provide facilities in the rural areas, it will not provide transport, it will only raise awareness of the already established Youth Zone in Chorley Town Centre.”