Forlorn Paula Murphy (Slough Express, 14 October, 2011, page 7) and her ominous anxiety that Britwell's 50 year old youth club is in danger of permanently closing down is too important to ignore.
Since 2004, Slough Borough Council has wanted to build flats on the youth club's Wentworth Avenue site. In a catchment area of over 15,000 homes, commonsense says children, teenagers and young adults from Britwell and the surrounding areas, need a permanent place to congregate and meet their friends, especially on dark winter evenings.
Keeping 'dumb' on issues genuinely affecting the quality of local residents' lives in Slough's deprived areas has become the hallmark of £186,000 a year council chief executive Ruth Bagley.
Mrs Bagley, OBE (gained in Devon, in 2007 for her 'services' to local government), and her less than impressive frequently failing Corporate Management Team, seem pre-occupied increasing their personal comfort at St Martin's Place, the council's luxurious headquarters on the corner of Bath Road and Montem Lane.
Having spent over £2 million on disputed essentials at St Martin's Place including the external waterfall complete with lights, critics say Ruth Bagley & her team have poured scarce public money down the drain while starving the borough's youth services of essential amounts of public funding.
Back on Britwell, surrounded by council neglect of essential housing repairs, public paths unswept for years, potholed roads and even trees growing out of roofs and gutters of council owned flats, Mrs Murphy needs £16,000 to keep the youth club open. Compare that £16,000 to the council's extravagant spending on consultants, headquarter comforts, poor value-for-money contracts and waste and you may begin to understand why the Britwell youth club has deserving priority for publicly-provided council funds.
Officers from Thames Valley Police privately praise the work done by the youth club and say, in an area of social deprivation devoid of community facilities and activities for the younger generation, it needs the money.
Meanwhile Labour Party fat-cats are surprising quiet about the Britwell youth club's funding crisis. For example Britwell resident Cllr Rob Anderson, admittedly living in the up-market 'posh' area of Lower Doverhouse Crescent, entirely isolated from the ugly, cramped, socially unattractive housing of Wentworth flats, Odencroft and Bromycroft, has failed to join the campaign to keep open the area's only youth club.
Cllr Anderson gets £26,000 for his few hours a week job as council leader. His two Britwell Labour councillors, Martin Carter and Pavitar Mann, get £8,000 each. If these Labour councillors, all with permanent daytime jobs, really love Britwell and care about the local youngsters, they could emulate the generosity of retired councillor Balwinder Dhillon who gave all his councillor's pay to support a charity in his neighbourhood.
In 2007 Wates, the builders of the new Beechwood School, gave over £1/2 million to Slough Council to help the Britwell community. Slough Council spent over £520,000 of the Wates money narrowing Long Readings Lane and on frivolities of little benefit to Britwell including 44 expensive wooden posts in Long Readings, most labelled 'Route to Farnham Road shops'. Long before the posts were recently installed, every resident knew their way to the Farnham Road shops.
In 2009-2010 the council spent £207,999.51 on mobile phones. The Britwell youth club needs a mere £16,000 !
The youth club's plea for a relatively tiny amount of cash, compared to the council's annual £400+ million budget and senior council staff's often lavish expenditure on non-essentials, suggest the council under the leadership of Ruth Bagley OBE, do not care about socially and economically deprived Britwell and its junior neighbour Northborough and their desperation for urgent and essential community funds and facilities.
I urge Mrs Bagley to instigate attempts to find £16,000 cash to keep open the area's only Youth Club.
As a council chief executive, paid entirely from money contributed by the public, the public have a legitimate expectation Ruth Bagley will take a prominent position in local affairs particularly in the performance of Slough's Borough Council and its effects upon the welfare of the local community.