The move is linked to the huge funding cuts that the government has insisted the council must make over the next four years. Over £110m must be cut from DCC budgets.  This is in addition to almost the same amount being cut over the last four years.

The youth services issue comes before people’s overview and scrutiny committee tomorrow, accompanied by an agenda paper which states that the review will be based on the following key principles:

– a substantial reduction in office buildings
– co-location of adult and community learning, libraries, youth services and fulfilling lives (learning disability)

The paper also states that in the future young people can expect:

– access to information, advice and guidance about the things that are important to them
– their voices to be heard through effective participation, engagement and consultation mechanisms, enabling them to be active citizens
– access to affordable universal, open access provision, in order that they have somewhere to go and something to do
– a targeted service that reaches those most in need of additional support

I attended a community event in Exeter last Friday to get an idea about what was being proposed and listened to voluntary services concerns about the proposed cuts and council staff and the portfolio holder, Cllr Will Mumford, making assurances that no decisions had yet been made.

I expressed disappointment that for the second term running, youth services were being targeted.  Around two or three years ago, Ottery’s youth services suffered a loss, as with many others, under the last set of budget cuts.

Youth clubs and having somewhere for young people to go is really important because it can often help avoid youngsters from getting into difficulties with the police.  But that’s the more serious end of the function of a youth centre. For many teenagers, it is a pleasant sociable place for them to visit to spend time with their friends.  To remove a centre would surely be damaging to a degree, in any community.

Cllr Mumford was at pains to emphasise that the council did not want to jeopardise the early intervention that youth services can provide.

This afternoon I attended a briefing for councillors, where we were asked to come up with criteria for how youth centre buildings should be judged in relation to whether they remain or are sold off.  After which, we were asked to rate the suggested criteria, as to how important we thought it was.

It is unclear how much funding is set to be lost from youth services, or whether the Ottery area will be affected directly, but the process of engagement continues.

I have arranged a meeting with local youth team leaders next week.

I will report any news as and when it emerges.

Here’s the agenda, including the paperwork for tomorrow’s people’s overview and scrutiny meeting.  http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/councildemocracy/decision_making/cma/cma_document.htm?cmadoc=agenda_scs_20130926.html 

The meeting, which starts at 10am, will be webcast live here –  http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/