• Devon youth centres put out to tender

    30th January 2014 | News | Claire
  • The information was set to go live on Monday (3 February) but was inadvertently published ahead of time yesterday.

    It has now been withdrawn from the the council’s website.

    The news caused considerable alarm among councillors at today’s budget scrutiny meeting and among youth service staff, who, according to one councillor, were “up in arms” about proposals.

    Almost one million pounds (£970,000) is proposed to be slashed from the youth service budget and dozens of staff could lose their jobs as a result.

    Devon County Council will launch a consultation period starting on Monday 3 February, asking what people think of the plans.

    Bids will also be invited from private, voluntary sector and communities, on proposals to take on and run the centres.

    Centres that are not successfully bid for, are likely to be axed completely.

    The proposed cuts come soon after major funding reductions three years ago, where dozens of youth service staff, including frontline staff, were made redundant.

    There is so much good work that goes on in youth centres, such as health and social education, alcohol awareness and other general support from highly qualified youth workers.  The teenagers that use the Ottery youth centre absolutely love it and when I spoke to them a few months ago about the possibility of losing the centre, all of them without exception were upset about the idea.

    This morning I asked whether the impact of the health advice to young people attending youth centres had been identified and qualified.  This is what director of public health, Dr Virginia Pearson had said needed to happen when I asked for her view at the last health overview and scrutiny committee meeting.

    One issue is that the rates of sexually transmitted infections are rising fast and more money is being pumped into the health budget as a result.  There is also a worrying rise in self-harm in teenagers and also there are increasing numbers of young people experiencing problems with self-esteem.

    This is the sort of service that Devon County Council does brilliantly and cost-effectively. But unfortunately, it is not seen as a core service, despite it undoubtedly reducing the incidence of anti-social behaviour, as well as providing a safe environment for young people to socialise in and receive important health and social education in a way that fully engages them.

    The education and support provided to young people by youth workers is highly skilled and must not be underestimated. 

    Libdem, Cllr Alan Connett said he was “flabbergasted” that the council was expecting councillors to scrutinise the budgets for the next financial year without seeing the detail of the £970,000 cuts to youth services.

    Councillors will consider the budgets further at the cabinet meeting on 12 February and again at the annual budget meeting later on 27 February.

    To view the webcast, click on this link. It should be available in the next day or two –  http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/ 

    Here are the agenda papers for today’s meeting – http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/councildemocracy/decision_making/cma/cma_document.htm?cmadoc=agenda_she_20140130.html