Youth cuts could lead to trouble

PUBLISHED: 13:00 14 October 2011 | UPDATED: 18:18 18 October 2011

Archant

PROPOSALS to slash the youth service budget by 75 per cent could be 'stirring up trouble for the future'.

Conservative-led North Somerset Council is looking to reduce the service’s budget by over £800,000 by 2013 in a drastic move which will see the 25 youth workers employed across the district lose their jobs.

Opposition members claim the majority of youngsters across the district will now lose out, while youths currently benefiting from the service have called upon the council to rethink the plans.

If the proposals are implemented, parish councils could be approached about taking on local clubs and other services.

District councillor Clare Kingsbury-Bell said a lack of youth services could trigger problems for the economy and cause an increase in crime.

She said: “It’s a big concern. Over the past few years beat officers in Yatton highlighted problems with youth crime.

“Local shops were in trouble because people would not want to use them for fear of gangs. When youth activities were set up, the problems stopped.

“Its not just crime, it’s the local economy at risk, all of it is stirring up trouble for the future. Where are the priorities?”

Another North Somerset councillor, Mike Bell, said: “The proposed cuts to the youth service are an example of exactly the wrong kind of cut to make. The future success of North Somerset depends on investing in our children and young people, not cutting them adrift.

“If the youth service is closed, we will leave generations of young people without the support and guidance they need.”

The plans have already sparked an angry outcry among young people across the district, with a group called Save Our Youth Workers, Save Our Youth Clubs set up on social networking site Facebook.

On the site, one member of the group, Jesse Fielden, said: “Closing the clubs will eventually force more kids out onto the streets to play and even if they are out there not causing a nuisance, a lot of people will still feel threatened by them. North Somerset Council seriously needs to reconsider this plan to close the youth groups.”

In an email sent to all the councillors on the authority, one youngster pleaded: “I believe what the youth workers do for young people is worth the £630,000 each year. There are many other young people like me who love their youth clubs and youth workers and need their support.”

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