Wiltshire Council climbs down on youth service cut
5:30am Thursday 27th February 2014 in Latest News
YOUTH clubs and the jobs of youth workers may have been reprieved after Wiltshire Council agreed £250,000 savings.
As part of its budget, agreed on at County Hall in Trowbridge, £500,000 was due to be cut from the council’s youth services funds.
Potentially this would have seen all the county’s youth clubs axed and 144 jobs cut.
Councillor Jon Hubbard, Liberal Democrat leader, tabled a compromise that will see the council save £100,000 by no longer printing paperwork for councillors, an efficiency review of youth club premises aimed at saving £125,000 and £25,000 from the councillors’ development fund being invested.
“Youth services is something my group are passionate about and I’m sorry I couldn’t find the full half a million,” said Coun Hubbard.
“Some youth services buildings are not fit for purpose and it is ridiculous to spend money on them when there are viable alternatives. This amendment is about people not premises; taking money from councillors making our lives a little less convenient to help others.”
How the £250,000 will be spent isn’t likely to be known until April as a public consultation about the future of Wiltshire’s youth services is ongoing.
Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott, who is leader of Wiltshire’s Conservatives, welcomed Coun Hubbard’s amendment.
The four options as part of the youth services consultation include the council retaining its in-house service at a reduced cost; outsourcing the service; supporting staff to form a public service mutual; or to developing a community led approach.
During Tuesday’s full council, Chris Baker, 19, of Salisbury, presented a petition signed by 2,500 people calling for no cuts. He said: “The young people of Wiltshire are shocked by the proposals.”
The council’s 2014/15 budget will reduce by £25m, approved in a vote which saw 74 vote for, five against and seven abstentions.
The budget will see youth services lose £250,000 of funding and bus services the council deem not inefficient cut by £176,000.
Family information services will be brought in-house, saving £120,000, and there will be a £39,000 funding cut to the region’s volunteer Link bus services by withdrawing 5p per mile of support funding.
Wiltshire Council’s budget for 2014/15 is £333m, which is £7.5m lower than the one last year.
The council’s Settlement Funding Allocation grant from central Government has been reduced by £12.8m to £63.2m this year.
Coun Scott said: “We know that we have to continue to work differently as the situation gets tougher and there are no signs of improvement in funding for local public services for at least the next four years.”