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Preston Youth Zone re-think sees call-in decision made

Posted on - 14th August, 2018 - 5:10pm | Author - | Posted in - Politics, Preston City Centre, Preston News
Another view of the Youth Zone alongside the Bus Station
View of the Youth Zone alongside the Bus Station in artists impressions

The decision to scrap the Preston Youth Zone proposal at Preston Bus Station is to be picked over by county councillors.

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Labour and Liberal Democrat county councillors have triggered a method known as ‘call-in’ to ask for the Youth Zone plans to be looked at in detail.

On Thursday (9 August) the Lancashire County Council’s cabinet decided to abandon the £8million project, but added a fifth line to its recommendation saying it would get back round the table with stakeholders to ‘explore other options in the current climate’.

The move was criticised by the Labour group, who moved the Youth Zone building plans from Bow Lane to the Bus Station while in power, and also the Lib Dems.

Read more: Recap updates as the Youth Zone decision was made

A spokeswoman for the county council said; “We can confirm that the Cabinet decision about the proposed Preston Youth Zone, taken on Thursday 9 August, has been ‘called in’ for consideration by the Internal Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 21 August.

“This request for a call-in was signed by nine County Councillors, representing more than one political group. The decision cannot be implemented, until this call-in procedure is completed.”

Preston West county councillor (Lib Dem) John Potter said: “The proposed new Youth Zone in Preston is such a big decision that we have to be absolutely sure that the advice from officers has been correctly interpreted and that the relevant stakeholders along with the public have been properly consulted.

“Questions will be asked as to whether the reasons given were just a cynical political smokescreen to avoid headlines of ‘Tories scrap youth centre plans?’

“Given the last minute addition of a fifth recommendation I don’t believe the cabinet, let alone backbench councillors, the press, the public or interested parties in the room knew exactly what was agreed upon.

“It seemed like councillor Driver was more interested in picking a fight than serving the people of Lancashire. For those and other reasons I was happy to call-in the decision for further scrutiny.”

Protests were made outside County Hall ahead of the Youth Zone decision by cabinet

The Labour group leader Azhar Ali told the Lancashire Post there was ‘not enough consultation’ with charities such as OnSide who had been involved in a partnership to operate the Youth Zone when the county council was Labour-controlled.

Former Labour council leader and Preston county councillor Jennifer Mein told Blog Preston: “I was one of the councillors who called in the decision and that was because I thought it was rushed.

“I don’t think everyone, and by that I mean the young people of the city, partner organisations and others have had chance to properly look at what has been decided about the Youth Zone.

“I felt the decision to add the fifth recommendation, to consult, was rushed and this needs looking at. I felt councillor Driver was under pressure and he had missed the strength of feeling about this issue.

“It deserves looking at again and the most important thing is ensuring the young people of the city get the facility they deserve.

“My personal view is the Bus Station is still the best location for this.”

Preston councillors raise concerns

Preston City Council also look set to take action, five Labour city councillors have tabled an emergency notice of motion for the next full council meeting on Thursday 23 August.

It calls on the interim chief executive of the city council, Adrian Phillips, to write to the itemporary chief executive of Lancashire County Council Angie Ridgwell and outline the city council’s concerns about the lack of youth provision in Preston.

The motion also calls for the closure of the Star Youth Club and the children and family wellbeing services in Ashton, New Hall Lane and Sharoe Green to be included in their concerns to the county council.

What do you think about the Youth Zone decision? Let us know in the comments below

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