There was a consensus among the Wiltshire Councillors at the early morning extraordinary meeting of Marlborough Area Board (June 20) that while the Marlborough Youth – or MY – Music Festival was a good idea, they needed to see some definite return for the extra money they were being asked for.
The MY Music Festival is being organised under the Local Youth Network (LYN) organisation with its young members leading the way. It will be held on the College track field on September 24 for 13 to 19-year-olds (and those with disabilities up to the age of 25.)
Three of the four unitary Councillors on the Area Board attended the meeting and it was decided that the additional £5,000 should be granted on the understanding that expenditure is approved – one councillor used the word ‘controlled’ – by the Board ‘s Chair, Councillor James Sheppard, and the community manager Andrew Jack.
The LYN has already had a grant of £4,700 which is mainly being spent on hire of facilities and security measures. And the organisers had said that any part of the further £5,000 – for which a budget has been prepared – that remained unspent would be returned to the youth budget.
A long debate at the meeting centred on Councillor Jemima Milton’s strongly held view that while she approved of the idea, the event should not just be about entertainment: “We cannot spend £10,000 to give children a nice day out. The money we’ve been given is to help the most vulnerable children.”
She wanted definite ‘outcomes’, but there was not much agreement on what those should be. Youth organiser Jan Bowra said the idea was for the Festival to promote the work of the LYN.
The money was granted even though Councillor Milton’s last words were: “I’m very very concerned – I’m concerned it’s not just a jolly.” It was agreed that the organisers should be asked to include a project aim and ‘push the entertainment towards engagement of young people.’
The issues raised at this meeting seemed to confirm the view that as it is now, the governance in the Marlborough Area of the LYN system and the divvying up of the youth grant is far from ideal.
For further details of the event and how to volunteer – see the earlier report on Marlborough.News.
NOTE: Jan Bowra, Wiltshire Council’s long-time youth organiser for the Marlborough Area is moving to work in Warminster and Westbury. Helen Bradley is taking over the Marlborough Area. She already has two other areas to look after. These moves follow a further round of cuts to Wiltshire Council’s youth provision.