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End of universal Devon youth service as £1m and 60 jobs cut

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 01, 2014

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Young campaigners are set to oppose plans by Devon County Council to sack 60 youth workers and put 34 centres out to tender.

Critics have questioned the proposals, which were accidentally published online then swiftly withdrawn this week, and are to be formally unveiled on Monday

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The UK Youth Parliament plan to join forces with other groups across the county to fight the restructure, which would see the end of council-funded youth services for all and save the Conservative authority £1million.

The proposal was buried in of budget papers detailing cuts of £28million for the coming financial year, provoking anger at a scrutiny meeting on Thursday that it had not been unveiled earlier.

Paul Arnott, chairman of the management committee which built the independently-run Reece Strawbridge Youth Centre, in Colyton, said youth centres were extremely difficult to run.

“On one level it is just about opening a building for young people to have fun – but it is like a soap opera and everyone has got a different thing they want to do, talk about or achieve,” he added.

“Once it is open you will have youngsters who want to discuss a major problem in their life - such as a sexual problem or parents splitting up – and ideally they should be talking to Devon’s Youth Service.”

“Devon is an enormous and challenging county – the young people in these small towns are quite remote and I hope what the excellent staff have to offer doesn’t get lost.”

The county council said wants to hand community groups responsibility for running schemes at the 34 youth centres across the county.

A council spokesman said they were “looking at moving from universal provision to a more targeted provision for the most vulnerable people” and “actively talking to voluntary youth groups”.

Independent county councillor Claire Wright, who sits on the scrutiny committee, said youth service staff who were “up in arms” about proposals.

“This is the sort of service that Devon County Council does brilliantly and cost-effectively,” she added.

“Unfortunately, it is not seen as a core service, despite reducing the incidence of anti-social behaviour and providing a safe environment for young people to socialise in and receive important health and social education in a way that fully engages them.”

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  • DevonTeens  |  March 20 2014, 4:55PM

    Hello, we are parents of teenagers living in Devon. Our County Council plan to shut down all the youth centres (80) in Devon, and we are shocked and upset about this. Over 12,000 young people use Devon Youth Service each year. This shows that this essential service is very well used and provides teenagers with the safety, support, help and advice from professional youth workers that they need (and cannot get elsewhere). Without your support all youth centres will close and will not be reopened - so we need your help to fight for Devon's youth clubs. Maybe you have teenagers who need a safe place to go, or need support with issues that only the youth centres can provide? Hopefully, you can empathise with this: You can help us by adding a comment/complaint on this Council youth consultation website: http://tinyurl.com/pjbvjul or (this will be even more helpful), please sign and advertise to as many people as possible this online petition: http://tinyurl.com/nryvtmn The loss of youth centres in rural areas, some hugely deprived, would be a terrible decision affecting thousands of teenagers. Please help us to make our voices heard. Thank you.

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