Muddle and confusion as Aldbourne's youth grant denied by Area Board

Written by Tony Millett on .

Members of the Aldbourne Youth Council wait for the Area Board Meeting to begin (Photo from their Facebook page) Members of the Aldbourne Youth Council wait for the Area Board Meeting to begin (Photo from their Facebook page) Six young people from Aldbourne sat through the two hours of Tuesday's (July 19) (very hot evening) meeting of the Marlborough Area Board only to discover that their application for a grant was not to be considered.

Aldbourne Youth Council - which runs the village's thriving youth centre The Junction - had applied for £5,000 for youth projects during the summer holidays and the October half-term.

Their application had not arrived in time to be considered by a full meeting of the Local Youth Network (LYN) which has to vet all such grants.  However, an email 'ring-round' was organised and the LYN appeared to be happy with the application.

At the meeting the Area Board Chairman, Councillor James Sheppard was not happy with the process by which the LYN had nodded through the grant - and said it could not be considered.

It did not help matters that the Area Board itself was not quorate for this meeting.

One way round that problem would have been to take the decision to the Council Leader, Baroness Scott.  But that process - with time for her decision to be challenged - would probably not have got the money to Aldbourne untgil the end of August.

Next day Aldbourne Youth Council told the story of the meeting and announced: "So it is with sincere apologies and great sadness that we have to announce that we are unable to host a National Playday event this year."

All may not be lost - quite yet.  An emergency meeting of the Area Board has to be called within the next fortnight to consider another urgent matter, and it could also reconsider this youth grant application.
Aldbourne Youth Council is obviously not happy about how the meeting went: "After sitting, listening and taking part in other matters for two hours, they were told that their proposal would not be heard even though it was on the board's agenda."

"They were met with such disrespect and not even one sincere apology from the board - who could at the beginning have said that they were unable to deal with any financial points. Our young people left with so much respect, they even said thank you to the board on leaving."

Marlborough.News should make it plain that we were not able to be present at the Area Board meeting. 

However, in piecing together the story of what happened, it has become clear that some people believe the process of approving youth grants (which were brought in to cover Wiltshire Council's cuts to its youth service) is very bureaucratic and may put too much emphasis on the views of Area Board councillors rather than of members of the LYN.