A GRAVE warning that cuts to youth services could lead to 'another Rotherham' have been shot down by council chiefs.
The chairman of Winshill Parish Council, Ian North, said he was worried that removing some elements of safeguarding through swingeing budget cuts could leave youngsters in the area in danger of facing something similar to the horrific sex scandal recently uncovered in Rotherham.
But Staffordshire County Council, which provides youth services, said it was wrong to compare the two situations, adding that changes had been carefully researched and analysed.
Mark Sutton, cabinet support member for children and young people, said: "We carried out an extensive consultation to help shape a new, modern youth offer, and to try to somehow link this to the national scandal of the systematic sexual exploitation of children in Rotherham is, at the very best, ill-judged."
The authority is moving away from providing traditional youth centres, where young people can access support, to different ways of providing services, as they say three-quarters of young people do not use the facilities.
Third-sector groups such as the scouts or sports clubs could fill the gap, the council has said.
In Winshill, county councillor Conor Wileman suggested setting up a volunteer-led youth centre to replace the service, which is used by dozens of youngsters a night.
Councillor North said: "In my opinion, removing any infrastructure from current statutory services will have an impact on the ability of the county to effectively deliver a service that maximises the full potential of our youth.
"I consider that the decision to ask voluntary organisations to run such youth services, while carrying out a statutory responsibility, is a very short-sighted and ill-thought-out approach.
"It is my opinion that we will live to regret the day that these decisions were made."
The county council is currently reviewing the need for services in each district to assess their funding requirements.