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Fear for future of youth clubs

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: December 23, 2013

By Leslie Jackson

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VILLAGERS fear youngsters will have "nothing to do" if plans to change services for them go ahead.

Consultation is to take place on major plans to change the way youth services are delivered across the county.

Staffordshire County Council is to outlines how it wants to work more effectively with a range of public bodies and voluntary organisations to give young people better information, advice and activities to improve their lives at home, school and work, at a cabinet meeting today, Wednesday.

The proposal covers services for young people aged 13 to 19, or 25 for those with a learning difficulty or disability.

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The council is considering moving away from a traditional youth service available to all to one that supports young people most in need, and work with other organisations to provide an improved range of things to do and better advice and information.

However fears have been raised that the plans could see the closure of youth clubs across the district.

At last week's meeting of Ipstones Parish Council members agreed to write to the county council outlining their concerns.

Councillor Linda Malyon said: "This is a plan to get rid of youth groups.

"I would hate to see Ipstones Youth Club close.

"It always seems to be rural areas that are targeted

"We have no bus service at night, so young people can't get out.

"What are they suppose to do?

"We should write a letter to the county council and also to our own county councillor Gill Heath to make sure the youth services are kept."

Chairman of the parish council, Andrew Stevenson, said: "I agree we should write the letters as there would be nothing to do for young people if it closed."

The county council said it currently provides a traditional universal open access service.

However, just one in five of the 73,315 young people in Staffordshire used the service in the last year.

This came at a cost of £8.73 million.

Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council stressed that no decision had yet been reached on potential changes. He said: "The proposal is about achieving the best outcomes for our young people's futures and outlines how we could remodel the work we support or do to achieve better results, particularly for the most vulnerable in our communities.

"No decisions have been made and much will depend on the results of the consultation, but if it the proposal is approved, we would look at every aspect of the service to deliver those outcomes for young people.

"We want to emulate this success.

"We believe that the proposal going to cabinet will allow us to help young people to build the lives they want, and deliver value for money, but we want to find out what young people and the public think."

If approved by the county council cabinet, the consultation exercise will start on January 8 and continue for seven weeks.

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