Page last updated at 19:46 GMT, Tuesday, 8 September 2009 20:46 UK

Cameron attacks yacht for youths

Hull and Humber Clipper yacht
The scheme was inspired by the Hull-based Clipper Tag Team

A health trust has been criticised by the Conservative leader for using up to £500,000 of public money to buy a yacht for unemployed youngsters.

In November 2008 NHS Hull approved the purchase of the 72ft (22m) vessel to be used to train teenagers.

Calling for more transparency in public spending while speaking in London, David Cameron said the purchase of the yacht was "extravagant".

NHS Hull said it was an investment in the future of local young people.

In his speech, Mr Cameron said: "If this extravagance had been published for all to see, the people who made this decision would either have to justify it or scrap it."

The project is an exciting opportunity for Hull to do something different
Christopher Long, NHS Hull chief executive

The NHS money was used to set up the Wilberforce Youth Development Programme, which is aimed at giving unemployed 16 to 19 year olds a healthier lifestyle and something to do.

As part of their training, youngsters spend time at sea, as well as being taught skills such as first aid, woodwork and metalwork.

At the time it was introduced, some councillors and union officers said the scheme was a misuse of public money.

'Deep reservations'

But councillor Ken Branson said although he had concerns about the amount of money involved, the project had been beneficial.

"I am aware that supporters of the scheme are extremely pleased with the way it has gone.

"I am prepared to accept that, whilst I have deep reservations over the timing and expenditure, the object of the exercise I don't have a problem with."

Christopher Long, chief executive of NHS Hull, said: "The project is an exciting opportunity for Hull to do something different; to build on its maritime history and really begin to make a difference to the health, skills and employability of our young people."

Mr Long added that the board's support "has not impacted upon any other health services available locally".



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SEE ALSO
NHS trust slammed over yacht fund
14 Oct 08 |  Humber

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