Sid Valley youth speaks out
16:38 07 June 2016
Students tackle coastal erosion, a seafront marina and the ‘visibility’ of young people in the town
The seaside location, sports clubs, shops and FolkWeek are some of the things that make the Sid Valley great - according to its youngest generation.
But students – aged seven to 18 - also criticised the slow response to erosion at Pennington Point, a lack of affordable places for teenagers and the town’s early closing times, at a workshop last week.
Representatives from Sidmouth Primary School, St John’s International School and Sidmouth College were asked for views on their community, what makes it great and what could be improved, as part of the creation of the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan.
The £46,000 volunteer-led project will provide a blueprint to influence planning decisions in Sidmouth, Salcombe Regis, Sidford and Sidbury for the next 20 years.
The deputy chair of the neighbourhood plan steering group, town councillor Louise Cole, said this was not only the biggest consultation ever conducted in the Sid Valley, but also the first time young people had been asked for their opinions on such a scale.
Addressing the group, she said: “I think part of this process is about giving more of a voice to young people and raising their profile.”
Cllr Cole, along with chair of the steering group Deirdre Hounsom, was at a Sidmouth Business Café event in the Woodlands Hotel, where the schools were asked to participate in opinion-gathering workshops.
The Byes, coastal environment, swimming pool, sporting and sea-related clubs, Sidmouth Youth Centre, leisure facilities and the sense of community were all cited as some of the most valued features of the Sid Valley.
Youngsters also put forward suggestions, including constructing a protective sea wall around Pennington Point, a marina to bring in more boats and potential jobs, and more teen-friendly venues, such as a milkshake bar.
Speaking at the event, deputy head boy at Sidmouth College Mat Ogley said: “We were talking about the gap between generations. The expectation is that when you reach your 20s, you will want to leave and I think young people do not end up being that visible in the town because of it.”
To find out more about the plan, visit: www.sidmouth.gov.uk and look out for details of upcoming events on parish noticeboards and in the Herald.