The consultation on the future of the Youth Service launched by the Conservative-run County Council proposes closing every county youth club. The aim is to save GBP 800,000 a year. This cut is already assumed in next year’s budget.
The excuse is that the county youth services are used by only a minority of young people, and as they are not provided in all communities this is unfair. As voluntary groups already provide most of the facilities for young people, they should simply be encouraged to pick up the pieces.
How can this make provision for young people more fair? A genuine consultation would be welcome.
Under the previous, Labour, administration there was a complete failure to work with voluntary groups, and most Youth Club premises stood empty for most of the time. Labour also closed many Youth Clubs.
A careful, case-by-case exploration with local voluntary groups of how best to provide “places to go and things to do” for young people could transform the situation, and save money. But this is not an instant solution. Simply closing down all the Youth Clubs, attended weekly by hundreds of young people, would be an act of vandalism.
Of course we must accept that councils need to save money. However, the County public relations machine set up by Labour and costing almost GBP 2 million a year has simply been taken over intact by the Conservatives. Labour’s “Insight” has been re-born as “Derbyshire First”. Self-serving publicity should be the first place to save GBP 1 million.
Chair, Amber Valley Liberal Democrats