Is Melton really such a bad place to live in if you are a young person aged under 26?

Andrew Lake and Colin Laws with Pam Posnett and Sarah Cox from Melton Learning Hub celebrating the new funding for full-time engagement officers to be based at The Venue. EMN-191202-173009001
Andrew Lake and Colin Laws with Pam Posnett and Sarah Cox from Melton Learning Hub celebrating the new funding for full-time engagement officers to be based at The Venue. EMN-191202-173009001
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How Melton fared

This remarkably harsh conclusion came out of a survey conducted by the Newsbeat team for BBC Radio One, in which they looked at a variety of relevant variables, such as the quality of the night time economy, affordable accommodation, available sports facilities, and access to mental health services.

The Venue youth club in Melton EMN-191202-173031001

The Venue youth club in Melton EMN-191202-173031001

And Melton ranked lowest of all 378 local authorities across England, Scotland and Wales in this Know Your Place project.

The borough recorded an average score out of 10 of zero for the quality of pubs and clubs, its sports facilities and the proportion of monthly NHS mental health therapy targets hit.

Bus services scored one and the number of young people claiming benefits (44 for every 1,000) received a mark of four.

Melton did, however, get a six for the proportion of the area with 4G mobile coverage (75 per cent) and an impressive nine for affordable rent (average price in the borough is £232 per bedroom).

From left, Malise Graham, chairman of The Purple Flag Committee, Shelagh Core (Melton Bid), police PCSO Claire Gray and Susan Oakes (Melton Council neighbourhood support officer) celebrate Melton having its Purple Flag status renewed EMN-191202-173740001

From left, Malise Graham, chairman of The Purple Flag Committee, Shelagh Core (Melton Bid), police PCSO Claire Gray and Susan Oakes (Melton Council neighbourhood support officer) celebrate Melton having its Purple Flag status renewed EMN-191202-173740001

The findings were announced on the BBC website, but Newsbeat later sent a Tweet to the Melton Times in an attempt to soften their findings, posting: “We never said ‘worst’ - it ranked lowest in our data analysis but we know plenty of young people love living in Melton.”

Social media was already rife, however, with young Melton people eager to support the conclusions of the study and urging the authorities to do more for them.

So are they right? Does Melton really have very little to offer the under 26 age group?

It is difficult to agree with the low ranking for night time entertainment as the town has seen a number of new restaurants open in the last year and pubs have reopened, such as the Genny B, which offers regular live music.

The swimming pool at Waterfield Leisure Centre EMN-191202-173941001

The swimming pool at Waterfield Leisure Centre EMN-191202-173941001

There are also regular events held in town, including the popular Teenage Market, which enables young people in the borough who are traders and performers aged 13 to 21, to showcase their creative products and talents for free.

The town also boasts a swimming pool and gym facilities on multiple sites although plans to upgrade and improve this offering have been delayed.

Melton Council doesn’t agree with the BBC findings, pointing out that transport connections and leisure opportunities are good in the borough.

A spokesperson told the Melton Times: “Whilst these indices do point to issues experienced within Melton borough, they are also skewed against rural areas in general.

The stats from the BBC Radio One Newsbeat survey which ranked the Melton borough lowest in Great Britain for services and opportunities available to young people aged under 26 EMN-190213-144637001

The stats from the BBC Radio One Newsbeat survey which ranked the Melton borough lowest in Great Britain for services and opportunities available to young people aged under 26 EMN-190213-144637001

“These indices’ by no means tell the whole picture about any specific area or how it caters to a specific demographic as it looks at areas in silos, and not how they interact with those areas around them, or the links they have to other neighbouring centres.”

The spokesperson said young people had access to regular bus routes and train trips to neighbouring towns and cities, and there was plenty in the town to interest people in the under 26 age group.

“Melton Mowbray’s historic high street includes many quirky shops selling vintage-style home accessories, clothing, books and gifts, fine dining as well as an art deco independent cinema,” said the spokesperson.

“A number of breweries and restaurants have recently opened, including the likes of Montero Lounge, Apteekki, which was voted the nation’s second best vegan café, as well as Round Corner Brewing, and BeerHeadZ, which have helped secure Melton’s Purple Flag status for its evening and night-time economy in 2018.

“Melton provides huge opportunities for its residents on their doorstep in terms of learning and development, and is just a stone’s throw away from Leicestershire’s three universities, which all have facilities available for businesses, from innovation centres and incubation space to research and development facilities, and highly respected colleges such as Brooksby Melton.”

Melton Learning Hub highlighted the courses it offers to young people who are disengaged with mainstream education, and the success of The Venue, a youth club which offers a social meeting place and support centre for youngsters.

The hub has just received £330,000 Lottery funding to pay for two full-time engagement workers to support young people in Melton, including those who have mental health issues, and to intervene with those who may have otherwise gone on to have issues.

Sarah Cox, manager of the hub, said their application stated that the money was needed to address some of the issues which have since been flagged up by the BBC survey.

“This is massive investment in the town which means we can now appoint two full time youth workers based at Phoenix House,” she said.

“The Venue will close at the end of March because we want to spend some of the funding to refurbish it to provide private meeting rooms in there.

“We have also applied for new funding to run sessions around the prevention of knife crime.”

The club also provides adult mentors and is always on the lookout for new volunteer helpers - call Sarah on 01664 563967 if you would like to help.

Readers responded in their droves to the publication of the Newsbeat survey results. Here is a selection of those views:

Stuart Yaxley, a father of two teenage daughters, commented: “The BBC survey is spot on. There is nothing for the younger generation to do. The town is dying, even the Saturday market which once was bustling with people. Melton needs a kick up the backside to bring it into the 21st century.”

Dorry Campey emailed us to say: “I agree with the BBC that there is very little for youngsters to do.

“Rural buses have recently been cut to every two hours, which limits the access to facilities in Leicestershire. Parking in the town is also expensive compared to Market Harborough or Oakham.”

Kelly Davies believes the cost of becoming a member of Waterfield Leisure Centre is too costly for a young person on benefits and buses were often late or didn’t arrive at all.

She said: “Overall, a rise in crime, lack of transport and recreational experiences, and abysmal mental health provision means that young adults are leaving Melton and taking their money elsewhere.”

Bruce Midgley agrees with the survey findings and believes much more should be done to make it a more attractive place to live for young people aged under 26.

He feels wages have not kept up with rent prices making it difficult to find affordable accommodation, and that the borough council should have allowed more licence applications for businesses which could have boosted the night time economy further.

Mr Midgley believes more should be done to attract young people to shop locally, adding: “Eighty per cent would agree that Melton is a town of coffee shops and charities. We need to allow big brands to come in and become sustainable so people can get what they need.”