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Youth councillor says Preston Youth Zone in Preston Bus Station is “utter betrayal” for youngsters in city

Posted on - 28th October, 2014 - 7:30am | Author - | Posted in - News, Preston Bus Station, Preston City Centre
Up to £8.3 million is due to be spent on the Bus Station and car park

The Bus Station will be home to a Youth Zone under proposals from the county council

Preston’s youth councillor has unleashed a volley of criticism at Lancashire County Council over their decision to house a proposed Preston Youth Zone in the Bus Station.

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Connor Dwyer, 15 and from Ashton, represents Preston’s young people and is elected to the United Kingdom Youth Parliament.

But in a comment on Blog Preston’s story about the Youth Zone decision Dwyer said Preston’s youngsters had been left “cheated” by the county council.

The Youth Zone was due to be a purpose-built home for activities for young people on Bow Lane.

Workmen on the now mothballed Bow Lane site

Workmen on the now mothballed Bow Lane site

A nursery was demolished to make way for it but the county council mothballed the Youth Zone blaming budget cuts.

It is now part of a £23 million redevelopment of Preston Bus Station, based on the concourse of the bus station.

Youth councillor Dwyer says the county council has ignored the wishes of young people in Preston

Youth councillor Dwyer says the county council has ignored the wishes of young people in Preston

Youth councillor Dwyer did not mince his words at his reaction to the proposal.

He said: “Utter betrayal from LCC. As Preston’s Member of Youth Parliament, I have been involved in developing the Preston Youth Zone Plus for the past three years and some of my fellow Preston Youth Councillors have been working on the project for twice that amount of time and all the while, we were ‘promised’ a purpose-built, £6m, 3 storey building behind County Hall on Bow Lane.

“LCC pledged £3m which it told me just earlier this year was ‘ring-fenced’ and ‘protected from cuts’ (the other £3m was to come from the OnSide charity and private investors) yet then all went quiet.

“PCC simply dismissed our questions as it was ‘all to do with LCC’ and LCC just kept promising information at a later date with speculative remarks about the Youth Zone being in the bus station since July. We (as Youth Councillors) raised our concerns that the bus station was simply not suitable or appropriate for the youth zone, but clearly, these concerns meant nothing. Years of ‘consultation’ with us was clearly a box ticking exercise for LCC showing that we young people have to be seen to heard, but not heard to be seen. The fickle nature of local politics continues with my generations pushed in to obscurity, no matter how hard we try.

“This youth zone will be the only one in the north west from OnSide not to be a purpose-built facility and it will most certainly be unsafe with it still, supposedly, being a working bus station. We have certainly been cheated out of space considering bus passengers will clearly have to have their own area as they won’t be in the same space as the youth zone and thus we’ll be squeezed in to just one section of that concrete-cancer riddled monstrosity.

“I simply don’t see this working and I am thoroughly disappointed by these proposals. LCC have dismissed the youth council and clearly have little respect for local youth voice and democracy.”

Lancashire County Council cabinet member for children, schools and young people, Matthew Tomlinson, tweeted on Monday night the Youth Zone was “great news”.

In a statement on the Bus Station proposals councillor Tomlinson made reference to consultation with the youth councils.

He said: “The Youth Councils have been involved in the development of Preston’s Youth Zone Plus from the beginning, and our experience elsewhere in Lancashire is that they really deliver what young people want.”

What do you think about Dwyer’s comments? What’s your view on the Youth Zone proposal? Let us know in the comments below

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