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Youth centres facing the axe
YOUTH centres across Wyre Forest could close if Worcestershire County Council approves recommendations as part of its plans to save £1.4 million.
The council will decide the fate of services for young people – now known as Positive Activities – at a meeting today, with the future of centres in Kidderminster, Bewdley and Stourport in the balance.
Funding for youth services in the district was set at £375,015 for 2011/12.
The proposed figure has been slashed by 49 per cent to £191,730.
The cut is part of the council’s BOLD – Better Outcomes, Lean Delivery – programme which is intended to cut spending across the county by 53 per cent, from £2.5 million to £1.1 million.
Phil Arthurs-Thompson, 13, a member of the Worcestershire Youth Cabinet for Kidderminster, said the group would fight the proposals.
“A lot of young people are not happy about what is proposed and we have a plan of action,” he added.
“If centres were closed there would be nothing for young people to do and there could be more trouble around Kidderminster.”
According to the proposals, Kidderminster and District Youth Centre, Bromsgrove Street, could have its lease from Kidderminster Youth Trust terminated at the end of March, 2013, with the building reverting to the trust.
Founder trustee, Charles Talbot, is determined the centre will continue.
He said: “The same problems existed when we founded the centre in the first place in 1955 – nothing has changed at the council. The centre will not close down. The trust can and will keep it going.”
Fran Oborski, chairman of Wyre Forest Children and Young People’s Partnership, said: “The centre was run by the youth trust successfully before the council even leased it so it does not mean that it will close down.”
She added: “It is a very sad reflection on us as a country that services for young people are at risk.”
Town councillors in Bewdley and Stourport expressed their concern for the future of youth services.
Bewdley Youth Centre could be sold if the council is unable to identify an alternative use for the building.
Independent Community and Health Concern Bewdley town councillor, Derek Killingworth, said: “The worst case scenario would see a huge reduction in services for young people and the county council will not provide the facilities for them.”
Mr Killingworth, chairman of trustees for Bewdley Youth Cafe, said he was working with the youth service so people could use the cafe on Monday evenings but warned the cafe would not receive any extra money.
“We are working daily, making applications for funding,” he said. “We are a stand-alone charity and raise all funds ourselves.”
Ownership of Stourport Youth Centre could transfer into the hands of Stourport High School, with a condition on the lease stating it must stay available for community use.
Stourport Labour town councillor Jamie Shaw said: “There is also a danger the move is ad hoc and will lead to youth services having no central goals or philosophy.”
The committee’s recommendation for Spennells Youth Centre, Heronswood Road, is for ownership of the building to transfer to Heronswood Road Primary School, with the agreement of Wyre Forest District Council, which owns part of the site.
The transfers in Stourport and Spennells would be subject to agreement from the schools.
What do you think about the proposals? Contact William Tomaney on 01562 633340 or by emailing email@example.com or leave a comment below.