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Furious protests drown out Birmingham Council cabinet meeting over youth service cuts

Protesters and young people furious about youth service cuts drowned out a Birmingham City Council cabinet meeting today.

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The protesters marched from Central Library to the Council House chanting, shouting and blowing horns. Before a rallying cry of support the protesters held a minute's silence for Muhammad Hassan Ali who was stabbed to death in Victoria Square last month as councillors axed the anti-knife crime budget.

The protest was organised by Save Birmingham Youth Service and Unite the Union after council plans to axe half of the budget for young people's services in the city over the next two years were revealed.

Lee Wiggetts-Clinton, from Unite, said: "The youth in the city are our future, every day the youth service works with these young people who have turned up today.

"This council wants to diminish our youth services, young people got to these centre because they are safe spaces. Our youth centres provide food for children, and give them food for their families.

"We have proved today we can be loud, well, we will not go quiet when it comes to fighting for our youth services in the city. The council needs to reconsider their planned cuts."

Birmingham City Council leaders refused to leave the council house to meet with young people and accept sackfuls of letters from children who attend youth centres.

One protester, who refused to be named for fear of losing their job, said: "I think it is disgusting the council leaders cannot come outside and meet these young people who have come from all sides of the city to make their voice heard."

Birmingham youngster Olivia, 13, joined the protest to help keep her beloved Maypole Youth Centre open.

She said “So many children have no where else to go. We do so much at Maypole Youth Centre, Druids Heath and the workers there are just amazing, we do so much stuff, and can talk about problems too."

Youth Board member Hammaam Shire, 18, also spoke to the crowd, he said: "Our youth services change children's lives, they stop children going down the wrong path, they give them a safe space. I see all the time how children get their only proper meal of the day at our youth centres."

Birmingham City Council Conservative group leader Councillor Bobby Alden urged the Labour cabinet to rethink the cuts to the youth and careers service.

He said: "For the council to even consider cutting these vital services which keep youngsters in our city safe is shameful. They should come out here and speak to these young people.

"During a time when we are seeing so much knife crime, and tragedies on our streets, to cut the £1 million anti-knife crime budget is just beyond belief."

A Birmingham City Council statement about the cuts admitted it was "unsettling time" for residents.

The statement added: "As we review the saving proposals for the children, young people and families directorate, it will be inevitable that services will need to be changed as a result, and this process allows us to continue making improvements to provide efficient services.

“We will do all we can to minimise the impact during this difficult time and continue to prioritise the services for the most vulnerable residents in the city."