End of the road for youth bus

A YOUTH bus will not be stopping in Locking again after the parish council decided to pull its funding.

At a meeting of the council on March 1, members were told that on one occasion a member had gone along to visit youths on the bus - but only found two youth workers sat smoking in a car.

The council heard attendances had dropped as youngsters did not know whether the bus would be parked in the playing field for its weekly slot.

Councillors decided the �4,000 of funding for the bus would be better spent on other activities for the village’s youngsters.

The youth bus, which is run by Avon Youth Association (AYA), had been visiting the village since April 2010, and saw its funding renewed last year.

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But councillors were told average attendances had dropped over the last part of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, with an average of just nine youths using the bus between September 6 and December 13.

Councillor Christine Newey said she had gone to see how many youngsters were using the service on February 7 when she found the two youth workers in their car at the playing field.

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She said: “I don’t think it was very good really. If I was going to the youth bus, I don’t think I’d want to approach two people sat in a car.

“They had also said they hadn’t advertised when it was going to be there, which I would have thought would be part of their job if we were paying them �4,000 a year.”

The council voted to withdraw funding for the bus for the next financial year, and will instead direct it towards other activities, possibly at the village hall.

The council has also decided to join the Southern Rural Network of councils and organisations set up to offer youth services in the area.

Another councillor, Julia Moss, added: “What we’re aiming to have is something that can take place in the village hall, which would be more central and could attract more youngsters.”

Parish council clerk Catherine McGrath said: “My council is acutely aware that there could be a gap in youth provision because of the youth bus not attending any more, but members have decided to arrange alternative provision and are doing everything they can to find those alternatives.”

The Mercury attempted to contact AYA but the organisation did not reply to our enquiries.

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