New Wolverhampton council leader pledges youth services overhaul
Youth services in Wolverhampton are set for a major overhaul under plans revealed by the council's new leader.
Councillor Ian Brookfield says he wants to significantly increase the city's budget for youth services in a bid to drive youngsters away from crime.
He has vowed to prioritise tackling sky high youth unemployment rates across the city, with the introduction of more opportunities for young people seen as a key starting point.
Councillor Brookfield told the Express & Star: "We have to look after the youth of our city.
"We have fantastic facilities such as The Way, which we will continue to support, but I will be making a plea across the whole council that services that help our youngsters – services that help with work, play and education – we need to get a lot more of them out there in the community.
"On the estates we need to put a lot more out there to engage youngsters. There's too many groups walking around empty estates at eight or nine o'clock at night.
"As a council we will place a new emphasis on supporting young people to stop them from getting drawn into crime.
"These new services are to bend people away from that life. It will make a directional change in the figures."
Councillor Brookfield, who replaced Roger Lawrence as leader last month, said that cash from unspecified service areas would be diverted in next year's budget.
"There will be a substantial amount of new funding," he added.
"We have not gone through the budget yet. Although we have already identified major six-figure sums, we still have to finalise the other areas where we can attract finances from.
"This will be a major step."
Councillor Brookfield said he wanted to bring in a range of new schemes, and urged businesses in the city to join forces with the council.
"I don't want to replicate past youth centres that just offered table tennis or pool under the watchful eyes of youth workers. It can't just be a brick-based service," he said.
"There are services out there such as digital buses which we could take all around the city. For the babies, I'm talking about bringing forward new play schemes. It is not 'one-size-fits-all', we need a range of new schemes.
"We want to say to business, this is a joint effort. We need them to come in and take the kids on for work experience and apprenticeships.
"In five to 10 years it will benefit us all because Wolverhampton will be a better place to live."
The pledge came as children's centre The Way Youth Zone last month said it needs £150,000 this year to be able to keep running – and bosses are asking for help.