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COUNCIL ACCUSED OF “UNDERHAND” ATTEMPT TO BRING IN YOUTHBEATZ CHARGES THAT COULD SEE LOCAL YOUNGSTERS MISS

The Leader of the Labour Group on Dumfries and Galloway Council Ronnie Nicholson has accused the Council of an underhand attempt to bring in charges for the hugely successful Youthbeatz event in Dumfries that could see local youngsters miss out

At a meeting of the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee yesterday (4 September) the ruling Tory SNP coalition voted in favour of adopting a new Major Event’s strategy. At present the Youthbeatz event is organised by local youngsters in partnership with Nithsdale Area Committee who provide the funding.

However, the strategy will mean that the running of the Youthbeatz event will effectively transfer from the council’s Nithsdale Area Committee to the Policy and Resources. As half the members of Nithsdale Area Committee are Labour who support keeping the event free, no charge was introduced this year despite a proposal to do so from officers. However, the ruling Tory SNP coalition who support a charge, have a majority of the Policy and Resources Committee.

The Major Events strategy also states that events should be marketed “to a quantifiable target of out of region visitors”, raising fears that local youngsters will miss out as tickets are marketed to people from out with the area.

Councillor Ronnie Nicholson has vowed to fight the move and to ensure that Youthbeatz stays within the control of Nithsdale Area Committee who originally introduced the event and have built it up.

Ronnie Nicholson said, “The inclusion of Youthbeatz in the council’s Major Events Strategy is an underhand attempt to bring in charges through the back door. The Tory SNP coalition knew that the majority of members of Nithsdale Area Committee support the event remaining free, so they are trying to transfer the decisions on funding to a committee with a majority who want to introduce charges.”

“The event has proved to be massively successful as a result of the fact it is organised by local youngsters in Nithsdale in partnership with the local Area Committee. However, the Area Committee, and more importantly the local youngsters and organisers of the event, haven’t been consulted about this change and it is yet another example of the top down approach of this coalition whereby councillors from outwith Dumfries impose decisions on the people of Dumfries.”

“Youthbeatz is more than a concert for young people. It is a range of educational events that are spread out over a week through a youth festival. The council does little enough for young people, but now they want to disenfranchise them by finding a way to impose a charge for some of those events. When charges were previously proposed it was shown that it would raise very little money because of the cost of introducing a ticket sales system.

“What is particularly worrying is the fact that to be a major event in the council’s strategy, it needs to be marketed to people outside the region. This year all the tickets went to youngsters in Dumfries and Galloway, but as a major event, tickets will be up for sale to anyone from anywhere who wants to buy them and that means local youngsters could lose out. This event could go from being the largest free festival in Scotland for the benefit of local youngsters in Dumfries and Galloway with a real educational aim to simply being yet another concert open to anyone with the money to buy a ticket and that was never the intention.”

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