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Strange youth u-turn

July 31, 2014 8:56 AM
By Trevor Carbin

On Tuesday Wiltshire Council Conservatives spent ninety minutes attacking and defeating a Liberal Democrat motion to put an extra £225,000 into youth services, saying the money did not exist and was not available. On Wednesday they announced they'd found an extra £300,000 to put into youth services.

On Tuesday they criticised the Lib Dems for 'raising expectations' amongst young people, though in fact young people in Wiltshire understand clearly the necessity of having very low expectations of Wiltshire Council.

The Lib Dem proposal was all about "transitional arrangements" over the next 18 months to compensate for the sudden closure of youth centres and the loss of the professional youth workers. On Tuesday they said that was unnecessary. On Wednesday they specifically mentioned the 'transition' in their own press release.

On Tuesday Tory leaders marched their troops to the top of the hill to face and outgun the combined opposition. On Wednesday they effectively admitted they'd got it all wrong.

Comment - "Let's give credit where it's due. As seconder of the Tuesday motion I welcome the fact that council leaders have recognised that whilst they won the vote numerically they lost the argument morally. This extra cash will go a long way to helping young people through the transition period into the new arrangements, and will at least reduce the harm done by the bungled programme of cuts to frontline youth services."

Here's the full and unedited WC Wednesday press release:


Wiltshire Council leaders have announced further funding, which is to be made available this year, to support community led youth activities.

The funding of approximately £300,000 is in addition to a £270,000 budget for youth activities which is being devolved across Community Area Boards from October. The money, which has largely been raised through local events and funds earmarked for repairs and maintenance, will be used to support local youth projects and help the transition to the new community-led model.

Cabinet member for children's services Laura Mayes said:

"I am pleased that this locally raised money will be spent within our local communities. The money can be spent by the community on projects which will really help young people in this transition period.

"The new model will be led by the local community with local young people having a say in what's provided.

"For many young people this is a time of change but I'd encourage them to be involved so we can ensure the youth activities in their area are what they enjoy and like to do."

The first community youth officers (CYOs) have already been appointed, and will co-ordinate activities and help support young people in each area. This is part of the new model to ensure as many young people as possible are able to access community activities while the service gives taxpayers value for money.

The CYOs will help communities, particularly young people, develop what they would like to see in their area.

The boards will be working with their own CYO, young people's representatives and community partners through newly formed Local Youth Networks (LYNs). These groups will provide the opportunity for young people to get involved in determining what activities are needed in their area.

The activities themselves will be provided by a range of organisations, including voluntary and community groups. Many of these groups are already running activities, often using paid staff. Part of the new service model will mean they will be able to apply to their area board for funding.

Area boards have been allocated their funding grant for the period 1 October 2014 to 31 March 2015 and the next steps will be to work with communities to develop appropriate activities to meet local needs.

The council will also be working with the area boards and communities to find suitable locations for activities as part of the review of existing buildings."