Boost for Sidmouth Youth Centre without big tax hike

Sidmouth Youth Centre. Ref shs 0826-40-14TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth Youth Centre. Ref shs 0826-40-14TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Youngsters will be able to learn new skills at Sidmouth Youth Centre after civic leaders allocated another £11,500 to its budget for the year, writes Stephen Sumner.

The town council runs the Manstone Lane hub with Young Devon, which now plans to open it for another night each week and better utilise the building to help cut costs.

In a bid to keep taxpayers’ bills down, some of the funding was found from a reserve earmarked for the Manor Pavilion. The rainy day fund was set aside in case the council took over ownership of the theatre from the district authority.

The town council’s slice of residents’ overall council tax bills will increase by just 25pence for the average band D property compared to last year.

Chairman Jeff Turner said: “When Young Devon was contracted after Devon County Council (DCC) pulled out [from the youth centre] it said it wouldn’t just provide three nights-a-week.

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“They said they would also go about recruiting volunteers and generating new services that would involve the community.”

The town council stepped in to reopen the youth centre last year after DCC cuts forced its closure.

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It contracted Young Devon to run the provision and initially set its budget at £24,000 – a sum that allows it to open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

The charity is now saying that, with another £11,500, it could open for another night and develop special interest groups to teach young people skills ranging from motor mechanics and music to electronics. It will also bring in other groups to better utilise the youth centre and help cover the costs of its maintenance.

The town council this week agreed to Councillor Paul Wright’s proposal to move £20,000 from its £50,000 reserve for the Manor Pavilion into its working budget.

He said: “That money was put aside when the theatre was in financial difficulty and there was a risk of it not continuing – things are much rosier there now. They are booked-up until 2018 in a lot of cases.”

The town council’s overall budget for 2016/17 is now £419,135 - an increase of 1.4 per cent on last year. This will cost the average band D property £60.55.

Also budgeted for 2016/17 are:

? £2,500 for seagull management – up from £450 in 2015/16;

? £2,000 for the council’s website and to develop its social media presence;

? A £6,000 contingency for a Red Arrows display.

The town council has also budgeted £25,000 for a jetty. Its reserves stand at £85,000.

The town council’s precept makes up one part of residents’ overall council tax bills, with the total determined by the budgets of the district and county councils, the police and the fire service.

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