YOUNGSTERS concerned about the potential loss of youth services in Rugby have collected more than 500 signatures in support of a countywide campaign.
The petition, to which Fareham Youth Centre in Rugby has contributed, needed 5,000 signatures to force a full council debate about the cutting of youth services. The petition received a huge response from the public and organisers delivered the document to Shire Hall in Warwick on Monday with a total of 12,746 names on it.
Cllr Noreen New (Lib Dem, Paddox), who is on the Fareham Youth Centre steering group and co-ordinated the petition in Rugby, said: “The loss of local youth facilities will have a detrimental effect on the young people who attend them, as they could become vulnerable to negative influences instead of enjoying themselves in a safe and positive environment.”
One of the youngsters who regularly attends the Fareham Youth Club added: “If it wasn’t for the support I have had from the staff at the club and the information they have given me, my life would have taken a dramatic downturn and I would have turned to other forms of support like drugs in order to cope, rather than sitting my exams and having a positive future ahead of me.
“I owe a lot to this club and can’t believe what the county council is proposing.”
Warwickshire County Council (WCC) said this week that although youth services will face a ‘transformation’ over the coming years, £1 million of funding will be set aside for it.
The £1 million allocation will be spent on establishing links between youth workers and voluntary community groups. WCC said its aim is to provide a more mobile service, centred around youth workers, who can move around Warwickshire to areas that need it.
Cllr Heather Timms, portfolio holder for children, young people and families at WCC, said: “Young people remain very much at the heart of the county council’s thinking. We are in discussion with local communities and schools about the management of buildings as we will be looking to focus our resources on services rather than buildings, management and administration.”
Cllr Jerry Roodhouse, leader of the Liberal Democrats, added: “This is a start, but doesn’t go nearly far enough. We shall continue to press for savings in less essential activities, to reduce the youth service cuts even further and give it the opportunity of a sustainable future.”
The debate about youth services will take place at the next full county council meeting on February 15.