Teenagers speak out to save their youth clubs
TEENAGERS spoke out to try to stop their youth clubs in South Gloucestershire from closing down because of council cutbacks.
Lily Anslow, 16, from Cadbury Heath, told councillors that before she joined her local youth club, she was getting into trouble every night.
She said: "I understand that money has to be saved but you will end up spending more money on the police, the National Health Service and dealing with vandalism if youth clubs are forced to close down."
Volunteer worker Rachel Goodchild, from Pucklechurch, told a special council meeting in Kingswood that people assumed young people in rural areas were well-off and could afford to travel to Bristol or Bath.
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But she said there were many "edgy" teenagers in small villages who had no youth service at all.
Alicia Thorn-Johnson, 17, from the Youth Board which represents young people in South Gloucestershire, said: "If youth centres close, it could impact on anti-social behaviour in the local community. If privately funded, youth centres may charge more and become unaffordable."
Councillor Mike Drew (Lib Dem, Yate North) said no one wanted to see any youth club closed down but councillors had to decide how best to distribute the smaller pot of money available to run them.
The council wants to save nearly £890,000 from its youth service budget by 2013/14. But the political parties fell out over the way in which the rest of the funding would be spent.
A decision was taken at a council meeting last month to continue funding for youth clubs in the council's six priority areas – Kingswood, Cadbury Heath, Patchway, Yate and Dodington, Staple Hill and Filton.
A pot of £250,000 would have been made available for youth clubs in the rest of South Gloucestershire to bid for. But the Tories said this was unfair and called last night's debate.
Rob Jones (Con, Bradley Stoke South) said it would be much fairer if all the funding was spread across the area, based on teenage numbers, instead of favouring urban areas, which have more people on lower incomes.
Pat Hockey (Lib Dem, Frampton Cotterell) said by safeguarding youth clubs in priority areas, they could concentrate on mobilising local communities in other areas to come up with ways to protect their clubs.
But Matthew Riddle (Con, Severn) said they wanted to see a fairer playing field in which rural areas also had money spent on youth services.
"In my area, not an ounce of money is spent on young people," he said.
The Tories started the debate by moving a motion which based funding on every young person, including the rural areas.
But the Lib Dems moved an amendment, backed by Labour, to keep youth clubs in the six priority areas and make £427,000 available for other areas to bid for.
Labour moved a further amendment on the way that the £427,000 subsidy was distributed but this was defeated. The Tories moved an amendment to increase the subsidy to £527,000, which was defeated.
The council eventually agreed the sum should be £437,700.
The council currently runs 13 youth centres and a further six are run by voluntary organisations.
Lib Dem leader Ruth Davis (Yate Central) said it would be up to young people to decide what youth services they want in the priority areas.