People power forces youth club U-turn

ndet 95939 Eckington Youth Club Protest. L-R, Paige Saunby, Rebecca Saunby, Greg Roberts, Josh Vickers.
ndet 95939 Eckington Youth Club Protest. L-R, Paige Saunby, Rebecca Saunby, Greg Roberts, Josh Vickers.

CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating after council chiefs announced a dramatic U-turn over plans to axe scores of youth clubs.

People power prevailed this week as Tory-led Derbyshire County Council ruled out a mass closure of 29 centres.

Instead, some clubs may be run by voluntary organisations while other centres could be kept under council control following a “case by case” review of each facility.

But Cllr Barry Lewis, cabinet member for young people, pledged no club would close if there was nothing to replace it.

He said the council had revised the proposals – due to be debated next month – following extensive public consultation.

He added: “We started with a plan that has been revised in light of what we heard and our final proposals are much better for it, which is what a true consultation should be about.

“What would be the point of having a consultation on a redesign of a service and not taking on board people’s views about it?”

Consultation results revealed 76 per cent of respondents thought centre closures were a “bad” or “very bad” idea and scores of campaigners have taken to the streets to speak out against the original plans.

Anne Western, leader of the Labour group at Derbyshire County Council, praised the “massive U-turn”.

She added: “People power has won the day.”

Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield, welcomed the “embarrassing climbdown.”

Cllr Lewis said: “If people want to call it a U-turn then that’s fine. I’m not fussed.”