Essex youth service cuts allowed to proceed

March 27, 2014 10:27 AM

LD councillors and young people protesting outside County Hall, Chelmsford

LD councillors and young people protesting outside County Hall, Chelmsford

Major cuts to Essex Youth Services will now go ahead. The Conservative majority on a scrutiny committee agreed to not oppose the cuts, after they were approved by Essex County Council's Cabinet.

The Liberal Democrat Opposition group had 'called in' the Cabinet decision and Lib Dem Councillors Theresa Higgins, David Kendall and Jude Deakin made the case for not proceeding with the cuts.

The cuts include deleting at least 25 full time youth worker posts, people who play a vital mentoring and support role for young people in Essex.

The Liberal Democrats mounted a scathing attack on the plans. They said:

  • There was no discussion before the Cabinet decision of how the new service will work.

  • The County Council expects the voluntary sector to step in to run services they are cutting, but there are huge concerns about whether enough volunteers will come forward to be properly trained.

  • The County Council expects the youth service to raise £800,000 a year income or else face further cuts, but little evidence has been given of how this will happen.

  • The youth services will not be monitored properly in future.

  • The local Youth Strategy Groups [one for each of the 12 Essex Districts] do not have enough funding or decision making powers.

Said Cllr David Kendall:

"Essex County Council can spend £9 million on temporary staff but cannot find £3.4 million to protect the Youth Service. But other Counties such as Hertfordshire and Suffolk are investing more in youth.

"It doesn't make sense to lose experienced Youth workers when we need them out there in our communities more than ever. The Tories should hang their heads in shame."

In their budget amendment on 11 February, the Lib Dem group identified surplus cash that could have been used to protect youth services and keep bus passes for college students, but these rescue plans were rejected outright by the Conservatives.