£950k youth service cuts to go ahead in Sandwell
Council bosses have refused to go back on a decision to make six-figure cuts to its youth service, despite thousands of people signing a petition calling for a rethink.
Sandwell Council is currently restructuring the youth service, which includes youth centres, clubs and park activities, as part of a £950,000 reduction in funding.
At a full council meeting on Tuesday night, youth campaigners Tasnim Miah and Lesley Estwick were given the chance to speak after submitting a petition with 3,102 names.
But Councillor Simon Hackett, cabinet member for children and families, responded by saying the cut-backs were enforced due to a fall in Government funding.
He said: "We have already had £70million of cuts, we have to now make further cuts by 2016. The council will have to make £121million of cuts.
"Despite that, the cabinet has worked to make sure we still had some youth service, some councils have scrapped it completely, we said we needed to provide a service.
"With that in mind we entered a consultation over the plans, spoke to councillors, trade unions, spoke to the voluntary sector and young people - I did listen.
"We will still have a youth service, we will have two main centres at Coneygre and Malthouse Stables, we will still have two teams working in the two towns and still have the two youth buses."
Councillor Hackett said the council will also still invest in young people in the borough, providing £300,000 across the district later this year for activities.
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But he refused to take no further action over the restructuring of the youth service.
Miss Miah, aged 19, from Oldbury told the councillors the decision to continue with the cuts despite three protests and the petition had left young people disenchanted over politics.
She said: "I realise me addressing the full council now will not make any difference, the restructure has already happened, youth workers have already been made redundant, centres have already been closed, youth voice has already been diminished and the circumstances have already affected the lives of young people.
"The petitioning system and the overall system in objecting to council proposals and decision has been ineffective."
She added: "The only way for Sandwell to ever move forward is to empower its residents.
"So how can we collectively prevent such a situation happening in the future.
"I hope that you will learn from what has happened here and allow Sandwell residents to have a real voice in future decisions."
After the meeting Miss Miah vowed to continue her campaign for young people by working alongside council officers on how to spend future cash on young people.
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