Youth row prompts Councillors to walk out of meeting

Councillors at Brook Way Youth Club

Issues surrounding the provision of youth work in Bradley Stoke have once again proved divisive within the Town Council leading to a Councillor walking out of a meeting after being accused of “railroading” proposals for extra expenditure.

After hearing youth leader Steve Robertson raise concerns in his quarterly report to Council that much of the youth club equipment is old and in need of replacement, Cllr Brian Hopkinson wanted to force a vote to approve extra funding for replacement items.

His proposal found little support amongst his colleagues on the Leisure, Youth & Amenities Committee, who thought that South Gloucestershire Council or Southern Brooks Community Partnership (SBCP) should provide the money.

Fellow Tory Cllr Morgan Baynham pointed out to Cllr Hopkinson that no vote could be taken as the topic of extra spending was not on the meeting’s agenda, adding that Cllr Hopkinson was trying to “railroad” the matter through Council.

After further discussion, it was suggested that Mr Robertson write to the Town Council with an equipment “wish list” which could then be discussed at the Full Council meeting in September.

An angry Cllr Hopkinson then accused Cllr Baynham of “derailing” his motion, saying that he had wanted a decision to be made that day rather than leaving it until September. “This is after all the Youth Committee”, he exclaimed before gathering his papers and walking out of the meeting, accompanied by Cllr Sarah Pomfret.

According to Mr Robertson, the Brook Way youth club needs four PCs (est. £1100), a table tennis table (£200), a table football table (£250), music equipment (£1500) and items of soft furniture. Offers of equipment and/or donations should be directed to SBCP on 01454 868570.

Photo: Cllr Brian Hopkinson (right) pictured with Cllr John Calway, Leader of South Gloucestershire Conservatives, at the Brook Way Youth Club.

Related Link: Youth Clubs in Bradley Stoke (The Journal)

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  1. Good to see that the organisation of Council services can be conducted with such maturity….

    That said, it hardly dispells the image of overtly bureaucratic “Vicar of Dibley”-style committee meetings when something cannot be discussed or decided upon simply because it wasn’t “on the agenda”.

  2. Asking the commitee when dealing with youth matters, and urging them to recommend to Council that we look at purchasing identified and much needed equpment is not in my view Railroading Cllrs into making a decision themselves at that time to actually spend any money. Looking into is simply that looking into. I had asked that the decision might initially be made by the Finance Commitee which was to be held two nights after the meeting we were at. It was stated by the Finance Chair that this would not be possible as the Finance officer was on holiday. I suggested that it was easy enough prior to the meeting to check monies which I understand might be available for Youth Equipment. That was not acceptable. I then asked if we might look to recommend to Full Council in September without need to be put back to a further Finance meeting before an authorisation might be made. An objection to this suggestion was made from one of the Cllrs present that indeed the next available Finance meeting aftter the September full council meeting was the place to hear the possible request. At this point the Town Clerk helpfully explained to all the members present that indeed at full Council due to the urgency of the request in relation to equipment wanting to be in place as soon as possible that it was in order for a decision to take place in September at that meeting. I fully understand that when making decisions whether or not to fund money out of the tax payers pre-cept we collect and allocate for community facility should not be made without good facts presented. With respect to my request I had not asked for such a decision to be made immediately for money to be spent as I more than appreciate that the committee we were attending does not have the authority to do so. However we certainly had sufficient information there before the Cllrs that the youth team had presented with us the facts relating to condition of youth equipment and the failure to retain many of the teenagers who visit the cl.ub to attend more than once or twice. Unfortunately being told that I was railroading Cllrs to just recommend to another Commitee that we should look at spending (or not spending money) on the proposal subitted to fund badly needed equipment seemed to be too much for one Cllr saying he would not be railroaded.

    I had need to leave the meeting at that time which I did after giving my apologies. I had proposed what was needed, that the request will be seen in September so job done. Meanwhile if any business’s or local residents might be interested in helping fund the badly needed equipment, please do not hesitate to contact me via my e mail or simply phone me. e mail is main phone 01454864074 also please note the Youth Club is always interested in volunteers to help out on club nights.

  3. It might seem like the Vicar of Dibley to some but lets not forget these people are spending our money and sometimes they need to be challenged even by a fellow Tories.Good to unity in political parties!
    Looking back over links to older articles in the Journal seems BS Council have already put in £60,000 into the youth club but South Glos only £33,000. Why not tap up South Glos council for the money for the new kit rather than expect more funding from the residents of Bradley Stoke. Its all a bit one sided with SGlos laughing all the way to the bank!

  4. Cynical Sid
    have you been reading my script? Other Councils locally get in excess of 84K and have considerably fewer young people than us. In fact the highest amount goes to Filton TC whose young person population dropped by 18% over the past year, whilst ours increased by an average 29% and our funding from South Glos dropped by 1%.

    We don’t get a fair deal.

    Cllr Jon Williams

  5. Is this the first time the Councillor has walked out of a meeting because he wasn’t getting his own way? A quick Google would suggest it’s not an isolated incident.
    I find it incredible that important, local issues are dealt with (or not) in such a manner.

  6. Chris
    I think you’ll find it was Cllr Jon Williams, a Lib Dem who walked out before. This Cllr is Brian Hopkinson who is one of the ruling Conservative group. Obviously some tension in the ranks!

  7. Tension in the ranks maybe but petulance by the councillor concerned at not getting his own way ie expecting public money to be spent at the drop of the hat to fund new equipment when the BS council were already funding the youth club to the tune of £60,000.
    Cllr Williams has already eluded to fact that BS get a raw deal from South Glos
    The money should come from the youth provider or South Glos.Hope if and when this is considered by the council they look long and hard at this extra public expenditure.

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