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Fears youth and children's services face cull
10:11am Thursday 3rd July 2014 in News
FEARS are growing that severe council budget cuts will see the axe fall on youth clubs and some children’s centre classes.
The Star was contacted by a number of sources this week who voiced concerns that the council’s network of youth centres are facing closure.
New mums who take their babies to play classes at children’s centres were also informed the some classes would be ceasing.
It is understood the future of the centres had been the subject of a council review in recent months.
When asked by the Star where the axe was falling, the council was vague in their response.
Responding to claims that youth centres will shut, a council spokeswoman said: “No decision has yet been made and the council is consulting with staff and users and will consider the consultation responses before any final decision is made.”
The council statement added: “Government funding to the council has been cut year on year and the youth and play budget is facing a 50 per cent reduction next year.
“It is clear that there will be a reduction in the number of staff employed, every measure will be taken to offer redeployment and early retirement too as many as possible.”
A number of Star readers, who claim to have learned of the cuts, criticised the council, especially as the threat to youth centres comes just months after a Labour election pledge to create a major youth centre in the town centre, mirroring Wigan’s much heralded youth zone.
Council leader Barrie Grunewald confirmed in his annual speech that he wants this to happen at College Street’s Beacon Building.
The council statement added: “The leader is keen to see a new facility developed in the town centre that will provide young people with the high quality venue that meets their needs.
“The feasibility of a modern town centre building being converted to become a state of the art facility will be looked at.”
The council, meanwhile, has played down the threat to classes for mums and babies that are held at children's centres.
A spokesman said several activities have been cancelled for a "restructure" but added "that everything should be back to normal within the next week".
He added: "All service users have been involved in a consultation process to advise them of this.
"Over the summer holidays all the sessions get reviewed anyway to take account of changing needs/requirements of service users and this will happen again this year."
Have your services been affected by council cut backs? Contact the Star's Andrew Kilmurray on email@example.com or call 01744 762712