CREWE Youth Zone has been told not to expect Cheshire East’s help to plug any more funding gaps after grant money is being reallocated to finance a £300,000 shortfall.

The youth zone, which is due to be built on the Oak Street car parks with money from the government’s Towns Fund grant, has experienced additional costs because of delays in bringing it forward.

Crewe Town Board agreed in May the £308,500 needed could be transferred from the budget allocated from the Towns Fund grant for another scheme – the ‘repurposing our high streets’ project.

That decision had to be agreed by Cheshire East’s economy and growth committee this week, which then had to apply to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) for permission to reallocate the funds.

But concerns were raised during the meeting about the funding model for the proposed youth zone.

Cllr Janet ClowesCllr Janet Clowes (Image: Cheshire East Council)

Cllr Janet Clowes, (Wybunbury, Con) said: “We looked at it closely back in the day and we rejected it because of our various concerns about its sustainability over time.

“I’m concerned that, already, they are coming to us with a request for more money because of unanticipated rises in costs.”

The Conservative group leader said perhaps that is not unexpected ‘in the current context we’re all living in’.

But she added: “I just want it on record that this council cannot be responsible for any future expansion in costs that this project raises in a capital context.

“We can just about re-jig it now, but they cannot come back to the table and ask for more money at a later date.”

Jez Goodman, the council’s economic development and regeneration manager, told the committee Crewe Town Board had already written to Onside Youth Zones, the charity delivering the project.

“We’ve made it clear we are not going to be in a position to plug any funding gap if any emerges,” he said.

Mr Goodman said Onside raised funding from a multiple range of sources.

“They have secured at least £1.5m already and they continue to explore other options to make sure their model is viable going forward,” he said.

“My understanding of all their projects which exist, which is running at least into double figures now across the country, is that they are all still operational and all successful in raising funding.”

He said with the extra £300,000 they were confident construction could go ahead.

And Cheshire East was contributing £400,000 a year for the next three years towards its operational costs.

“Going forward, it is reliant on them raising funds, but I think in the case of most projects there’s always the expectation that funds need to be raised,” he said.

Cllr Nick MannionCllr Nick Mannion (Image: Cheshire East Council)

Committee chair Nick Mannion (Macclesfield, Lab) said: “We’ve received reassurances and the partner we’re working with has got a proven track record of raising these kind of sums involved.”

The committee agreed to seek approval from the DLUHC to reallocate the Towns Fund budget.

This would see £317,866 being taken from the ‘repurposing our high streets’ money, with £308,500  going to Crewe Youth Zone and £9,366 going to the Jubilee Pocket Park site.

Six councillors voted in favour, six abstained.