Wolverhampton youth clubs axed as cuts come into force
All but one youth club in Wolverhampton closed last night after crippling council cuts became reality in the city.
Hundreds of youngsters from up to 30 clubs across the city are now without a local youth service, with dozens of jobs expected to have been lost.
The exact amount of job losses has not yet been confirmed by council chiefs.
But the local authority did confirm the loss of the clubs, which came into effect last night (FRIDAY).
Clubs in All Saints, Lanesfield, Dunstall, Bushbury and Bilston are among those which have had to shut their doors.
Epic Youth Cafe in the city centre is the only club to remain open.
Next year a £6million Youth Zone - backed by Wolves chairman Steve Morgan - will be unveiled off Worcester Street on the site of the former Scale cinema.
Bosses hope it will attract thousands of members, but until then the city's youths will have to make do with just Epic Youth Cafe in Lichfield Street.
The move was today labelled as 'an absolute shame' by the vice-chair of the city's youth council.
Kashmire Hawker, also a youth MP, said: "This will have a significant detrimental effect on young people in Wolverhampton.
"As a youth parliament member I think it's an absolute shame."
The 16-year-old, from Low Hill, added: "We wonder how on earth everything has got to this situation.
"The idea is that the new youth zone which opens next year will replace the clubs, but people will have to travel to get to the city centre."
The youth club cuts form part of £123m savings being made by Wolverhampton City Council.
Up to 2,000 jobs will go in total, with council tax going up and a host of services being axed.
Staff are also facing further cuts which will see their full time hours reduced from 37 a week to 35.
Outdoor events have also taken a hit, with popular country music festival Wolvestock getting the axe.
Bosses have pledged to do all they could to support young people in Wolverhampton.
Councillor Val Gibson, children and families chief, said of the youth cuts: "The fact that we have to propose these cuts is no way a reflection of the excellent work done by our youth workers and volunteers – it is a reflection of the horrendous financial challenge we face.
"Councils up and down the country are having to take the same tough decisions, particularly with regard to non-statutory services such as youth services.
"This proposal will enable the youth service to continue helping the most vulnerable young people in the city and support those organisations who wish to provide services for our young people."
"Many youth activities are already offered by organisations in Wolverhampton and the intention is to build on this good work by supporting more organisations to provide services in the future."
The new Wolverhampton youth centre, known as The Way, will have a four-court sports hall, fitness suite, recreation area and space for dance, music, arts and crafts.
It is expected to cost £1m a year to run and will be open to young people between the ages of eight and 19.
A similar project in Wigan has attracted 9,000 youngsters who have each paid £5 for membership.
In mitigation for its huge cuts, council finance chiefs said they had lost £147m in government grants due to cuts imposed by the coalition.
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