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Fears of another Rotherham scandal over closure of Winshill youth club

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: September 02, 2014

By Laura Hammond

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A MOVE to scrap youth services in Winshill could lead to a major children's safeguarding issue such as the sexual scandal recently uncovered in Rotherham, it has been warned.

The chairman of Winshill Parish Council, Ian North, said at the authority's latest meeting that he feared the closure of the area's youth centre and other cost-cutting changes to the way services are offered could put children at risk, because they will not be able to access the same level of professional support.

Agencies in Rotherham have been accused of failing to act on reports of sexual abuse involving young people, following a report showing at least 1,400 young people suffered at the hands of gangs in the area.

Councillor North said he was worried that handing control of youth services over to volunteers could lead to similar failings.

"I just hope in five years' time we are not sitting here with another Rotherham, because we are using volunteers to safeguard our children," he said.

Though he was shouted down by Staffordshire county councillor Conor Wileman, who said it was 'a dangerous point to make', several members of the parish council nodded in agreement.

"You get what you pay for, and we will pay for these cuts later," Councillor Dennis Fletcher said.

The popular youth club regularly attracted around 60 young people a night. Kim Smith, who worked at the club for some time, said it was a chance to speak to youngsters about any issues they had and the help that was available to them.

Staffordshire County Council voted to close this and other centres in the county, as they said young people no longer wanted or needed this type of provision.

Funding for centres and traditional youth services will instead support projects such as providing career advice.

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