Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting WN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Tory doubts over wisdom of cash boost for youth
PLANS to invest £175,000 into helping young people across Worcester have been approved – despite concerns that it might be better spent elsewhere.
The city council’s Labour leadership has finalised a move to splash out money on apprenticeships and helping Worcester Sixth Form College fund a new science block.
But the move has been questioned by a leading Worcester Conservative, who says he fears it may lead to other projects stalling.
Councillor Marc Bayliss, Tory group deputy leader, said: “In a world of competing priorities, I wonder whether that money is entirely the best use of our resources.
“Investing in the college is never a bad idea, but funding education providers is not something which this council has to do.
“I wonder if later this year, if we’re told there is no capital left for spending in other areas which only this council can help with, we’ll regret this.
"I don’t criticise money for the sixth form, but I do wonder if it’s really our task to have to fund it.”
Money for colleges is the responsibility of the Department for Education, and the county council is the authority which oversees it.
Coun Bayliss’ comments, made during a cabinet meeting, were rejected by Labour, which insisted helping young people is a key pledge of the administration.
Councillor Adrian Gregson, the leader, said: “During the consultations we ran over the summer and the meetings I’ve been in, one of the key messages we got back was concern over the ‘skills gap’ young people have when they present themselves to local businesses.
“This spending sits within that – the need for enhanced links between businesses and education providers is really important.”
Councillor Geoff Williams, deputy leader and cabinet member for economic prosperity, said the money was less than he was “originally being urged to spend”.
Of the cash, £125,000 will go towards the college, which will help fund a new science block and create a rolling programme of speakers from county businesses.
The remaining £50,000 will be put into extending the council’s apprenticeships scheme, which has helped 50 youngsters so far.
Grants of up to £500 can be offered to small companies which normally struggle to afford to employ an apprentice.
The council says the new funding should allow about 34 youngsters to find a position.