£250k budget cut could mean end of Holt's youth club
Youth club organisers say Wiltshire Council’s proposed budget cut could force it into closure.
The council is to cut £250,000 from its youth services budget by making its 144 largely part-time youth workers redundant and replacing them with 18 full time workers.
Now Holt Youth Club chairman Alan Fox says the loss of its part-time youth worker will mean it has to close.
He said: “Unless a solution can be found, we won’t have a youth club. We will have lost the expertise and professionalism, which is absolutely crucial.
“We are considered an example of good practice because we work with shared responsibility and trust in each other in order to provide a youth club for young people, some who are vulnerable and need that outlet.
“If they don’t have that, young people will push boundaries.
“I think what they (Wiltshire Council) are trying to introduce is for the community to pick up the baton. We don’t have the professionalism within the volunteer group and we cannot afford the insurance and training.”
Holt will keep its second youth worker, who is funded by money from the Bradford on Avon Area Board, Holt Parish Council and the church, and its group of volunteers. But the club says that is not enough to keep it running.
The club, which meets on Wednesdays for two hours, attracts up to 20 11 to 19-year-olds, who meet to take part in discussions, cooking, art, dance, sports and other activities.
Police in the area say the club is vital.
Community beat manager PC Lee Pelling said: “I have no doubt that the presence of a weekly Youth Club has gone a long way to reduce and maintain low levels of crime and anti-social behaviour in Holt.
“It gives us, the police, an ideal opportunity to engage with young people and understand their needs. It will be sad to lose this.
"Without the club and structured activity one night a week, there is more potential that young people will be bored and engage in less sociable activity, to the annoyance and frustration of local residents and businesses.”
Mr Fox wrote an open letter to Laura Mayes, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for children’s services, with his fears.
She replied: “The aim of the new model for the youth service is to ensure more young people have access to a range of suitable activities.
"By delegating decision-making to community areas and ensuring young people have a strong voice on each Local Youth Network to advise the decision-making, the young people will have more, not less, influence than at present.
“Each community area will have a fully qualified Community Youth Officer, who will be the go-to person for young people and everyone who wants to get involved with youth projects.”