Parish aims to restore youth services in area

Steyning Parish Council is trying hard to promote a visionary scheme to restore youth services to the area for young people up to the age of 19.

Chairman David Barling has been working with chairmen of neighbouring parish councils at Ashurst, Bramber, and Upper Beeding to see what can be done as a group initiative.

He explained: “It is a matter of common interest. The Cuthman Centre at Steyning Grammar School used to run youth activities every weekday night, but now it is down to one night a week with a youth worker, and that will cease with the withdrawal of funding by West Sussex County Council.”

The aim is to establish a youth service with one full time and two-part time workers, with a youth club at least two nights a week.

Parish councillor Phil Bowell added: “There used to be a good youth service in Steyning run by volunteers, but it has reduced from every weekday evening to just one night a week. We want to sustain what is currently provided and build it back up again.

“We are aiming to get enthusiastic volunteers back into the youth service and to offer what is expected in terms of support for young people.”

In Upper Beeding, a youth club operates on Friday evenings - but it is run by the village wardens in conjunction with the Methodist Church and has to close if they are called out. A dedicated service would offer consistent facilities and also release the wardens for their normal duties.

Mr Barling added: “Providing our own youth services is likely to be expensive, and a huge amount for us to achieve.

“We are looking into ways in which some outside contriubutions could be achieved towards this and it is a team effort with Bramber and Upper Beeding Parish Councils.

“ We will go out to public consultation on the cost when the idea is developed further.”

The amount needed for the envisaged service would add to the parish rate, but any outside funding would reduce this.In the interim the town has been seeing some good results following the installation of CCTC cameras in certain areas.

He added:“We have been making good progress in Steyning in relation to anti-social behaviour, which has significantly reduced since the installation of cameras in key areas.

“We feel restoration of good youth facilities is essential to follow up this success, by ensuring there are plenty of good facilities to cater for young people .

“We have had discussions with David Coldwell, Roger Potter, and Alan Griffiths, chairmen of neighbouring parish councils of Upper Beeding, Bramber, and Ashurst, to see what parishes in the area can achieve as a group.

“ We did this to save the local Saturday bus service and prevented it from being cut.”

He believes this form of partnership benefits all parishes involved and helps to achieve things which otherwise might not be possible.

Currently, Steyning Parish Council spends £250,000 a year, which is a comparatively tiny budget.

Thirty per cent comes from income, including renting the Steyning Centre and the rest from the precept.

“We are only able to keep it at this level if we do things ourselves. Steyning Parish Council is very pro-active, making things happen in the community.

“It has deep links with all the community and its many organisations and clubs.”