Fury over youth plans

ndet 95937 Eckington Youth Club Protest. L-R, Rebecca Saunby, Greg Roberts, Josh Vickers, Paige Saunby.
ndet 95937 Eckington Youth Club Protest. L-R, Rebecca Saunby, Greg Roberts, Josh Vickers, Paige Saunby.

PROTESTERS have hit out at controversial cost-cutting plans to shut youth clubs at a series of heated public debates.

Hundreds of concerned youngsters and residents have packed into local youth clubs this week to oppose Derbyshire County Council’s radical proposals.

The plans cast doubt over the future of 29 youth clubs in the area and could see up to 157 support workers made redundant.

The Tory-led council – which needs to save £100m over the next four years – is proposing to offer grants to voluntary and community groups so they can provide activities for 13-to-19-year-olds instead.

Sixteen-year-old Greg Roberts, who has attended Eckington Youth Club for two years, organised a meeting at the much-loved facility on Tuesday night when campaigners had the chance to grill Cllr Barry Lewis, Derbyshire County Council’s cabinet member for young people.

Greg said: “We held this meeting in order to show the council the importance of our youth club, which is used by so many youngsters

“I just hope the council listens to us.”

Meanwhile, Jane Petty – who organised a packed meeting at Hasland Youth Centre on Thursday night – blasted the “ridiculous” plans.

She added: “This centre is a vibrant and vital part of the community and supports over 250 young people. If it closes, they’ll have nowhere to go.”

A show of hands called by local Cllr Amanda Serjeant revealed no-one approved of the controversial proposals.

Labour Cllr Dave Allen, who represents Hasland on Derbyshire County Council, said: “We want to see this whole thing chucked out.”

The authority is in the process of holding a ten-week consultation on the proposals.

Speaking during a scrutiny committee meeting on Saturday, Cllr Lewis praised the “robust” consultation and said current results show 55 per cent of respondents had never used a youth club.

He stressed the council had not made a final decision on the plans and called for more people to join in the consultation before it ends on March 18

To take part in the consultation, visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/youthservice2012.

To request a paper copy of the consultation questionnaire, contact Bish Sharif on 01629 535700 or email bish.sharif@derbyshire.gov.uk.

l What are your main concerns about these proposals? Email comment@derbyshiretimes.co.uk.