Ratepayers will pick up the tab

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Larne ratepayers are being forced to foot the bill for a project aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour, after a bid for funding fell through.

The Gangway Youth Project, an initiative spearheaded by Larne Borough Council, focuses on work with young people aged 13-21 who are marginalised or excluded

The local authority employs a full-time youth worker as part of the initiative, and the project also has the use of a minibus.

In 2012, the scheme was adopted by Larne Policing and Community Safety Partnership as one of its planned community safety projects, which are jointly funded by the Department of Justice and the NI Policing Board through a Joint Committee.

In fact, the majority of Larne PCSP’s budget in the 2012/13 financial year was allocated to the Gangway project, meaning no money was available to fund any additional schemes.

However, due to the fact that Larne PCSP failed to agree on an action plan, the Joint Committee was unable to provide funding for projects.

As a result, Larne ratepayers will now be left to pick up the tab.

Larne Borough Council’s chief executive, Geraldine McGahey declined to comment on the projected costs associated with the scheme.

However, she told the Times: “An agreement was reached whereby Larne Council could be reimbursed for expenses for PCSP members and salary costs.

“Due to other requirements placed upon Larne Borough Council, such as employment legislation and the fact that a definitive and formal agreement had not been reached in respect of the action plan, Council has had no alternative but to continue to meet on-going project costs.

“This included the Gangway Youth Project, which was adopted by the PCSP as a project during 2012/13.

“The future of this project will be determined once the PCSP has an agreed set of priorities and action plan.”

Chairman of Larne PCSP, Councillor Mark McKinty added that an action plan is now being finalised for the current financial year.”

As reported in the Times, an independent review of Larne PCSP – commissioned by the Policing Board and carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers– raised a number of concerns over the body’s funding process and procedures.

The critical report made 22 recommendations in a bid to address several issues identified.