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Rally to protest at plans to cut youth service jobs

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: February 14, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

LJ Youth services
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A RALLY is being planned by young people from across Staffordshire in protest against planned cuts to youth services.

The rally is being organised by Youth Against Service Cuts (YASC) at Stafford Market Square on Saturday, February 15, at 2pm.

The Post & Times revealed two weeks ago that 120 youth workers' jobs could be under threat in proposals put forward by Staffordshire County Council.

The authority intends to make all paid youth workers who run youth clubs redundant and replace them with volunteers.

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The plans have raised fears that many clubs could close and young people would be left roaming on the streets with nothing to do.

Trudie McGuiness, Labour's Prospective Parliamentary candidate for the Staffordshire Moorlands and director of Learner Journey at South Staffordshire College said: "These services are invaluable to Staffordshire communities ,and despite the county council claiming to have listened to young people it is clear they haven't listened to those who cherish the professional youth work they benefit from.

"The encouragement and direction we give young people now is critically important for Staffordshire's future, success, prosperity and safety."

Volunteer youth leader at Mountside Youth Club Josh Wright said that if the proposals went ahead it would affect between 500 and 600 young people in Leek, beside the rural villages and other towns in the Moorlands.

On Monday night Ipstones Parish Council held an extra ordinary meeting to discuss the future of its youth club.

The meeting was attended by two youth workers and county councillor for Leek Rural, Gill Heath, who is also a support member for the ruling Conservative cabinet at the authority.

Councillor Linda Malyon said: "Taking away youth services is wrong. I feel the county council has already made their decision despite all this consultation which is just a tick box.

"The youth service is worth every penny.

"We get hardly anything from the county council. The county want organisations like parish councils to pick up the tab.

"If this happen we are paying twice through our council tax. It is not possible to keep getting volunteers to do everything."

"This will push young people into shop corners with nowhere to go."

Councillor Heather Morris said that Staffordshire County Council had held consultation in other areas of cuts but had then ignored people.

She said: "Look at day services. They ignored family views.

"More than 800 people opposed it yet they still did the opposite to what people wanted."

Councillor Heath said: "The county wants to give a good service, but it is expensive.

"It costs £4,700 a year to run Ipstones Youth Club. Across the county about 80 per cent of young people do not use the service."

The parish council agreed to write to the county council stressing it did not want the village youth club to close. It was also agreed to fill in the consultation questionnaire.

Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley said this week: "I have spoken to young people across the constituency over the last couple of weeks about this as well as to council leaders and I would urge everyone who is concerned to respond to the consultation – I know that the council will be listening."

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