Protesting Melksham youngsters fear cuts to youth services
Youngsters from Canberra Youth Club in Melksham fear cuts to the county’s youth service could destroy the centre, which has helped changed many young lives.
Wiltshire Council needs to cut £500,000 from its youth service budget and has come up with four proposals for saving money.
Jax Brady, who helped Canberra with a float for Melksham Carnival and to stage a pantomime, is worried about what the future holds.
Mrs Brady, who runs Candy Jax in Melksham, said: “I have seen at first hand what the youth club does for young people and how being involved in events such as the pantomime can really help their confidence. We have been told the youth club could move to the new community campus but the club wouldn’t have its own space like it has now.
“I am very worried that if Melksham was to lose its youth club the youngsters wil have nothing to do and will resort to hanging around the streets and getting into trouble.
“My daughter Zoe, 18, was involved in the panto and she is very upset about the thought of any cutbacks. My son Joel, 15, is autistic but he started going to the club and he was really warmly welcomed.
“A lot of club members went to the Melksham Area Board meeting last week to put their case but weren’t really listened to and are quite angry.”
Wiltshire’s cabinet member for children’s services Laura Mayes stressed no decision has yet been made about youth services. She urged the public to attend consultations at area board meetings in March and April.
The council has four options for discussion and all 140 youth service employees face redundancy.
Cllr Mayes said: “We know this is a difficult time for staff and it felt wrong having to draw up the report without telling them about it. But as a council we had a duty to carry out a review.”
The four options are: To retain the current in-house service but reduce the cost; to outsource the service; to encourage and support staff to form a Public Service Mutual; and to develop a community led approach. It is due to be considered by cabinet on April 22 but may be delayed.
The area board dates in west Wiltshire are: March 6, Warm-inster Civic Centre; March 12, Monkton Farleigh Village Hall; March 13, County Hall; April 10, The Laverton, Westbury.