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Youth services cut despite demand as 'something had to give'

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 30, 2014

By Laura Hammond

Comments (5)

WINSHILL'S youth club has been scrapped despite a need in the community as 'something had to give', according to the area's county councillor.

Conor Wileman (pictured near right), who represents Tower Division for Staffordshire County Council, said he was aware there was a need for youth provision in Winshill, but it was not deemed a priority by the authority.

Speaking at the latest Winshill Parish Council meeting, he suggested that a new volunteer-led service should be set up in the area to cater for the young people cast adrift by massive cuts to youth services around the county.

He added: "Money is so tight in the county at this time that I don't think it's OK to pay for a place for people to meet. When we see a high demand for elderly care and more children needing places in schools than ever before, something has to give, and this is what has to give."

The youth club in Winshill – which regularly attracted 60 children per session – has been closed in a cost-cutting move by the county council as they say youth centres and youth services across the county are not used enough. The council says other services such as the Scouts and Burton Albion Community Trust would plug the gap, but Winshill representatives are not so sure.

Parish councillor Jim Muir said: "There are young people who don't want to be part of an organisation; they just want to be young people and get the support they can from youth services."

The consultation which led to cuts in youth services was conducted in three places – none of which were in Winshill. Councillors said it did not consider the locations where the need was highest.

"The demand has been demonstrated in Winshill. If they'd done a survey here they would have found young people want it," Councillor Dennis Fletcher (pictured above right) said.

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5 comments

  • mattlong  |  August 31 2014, 10:38AM

    The task of the political left in the run up to May 2015 is to (a) encourage the people of Burton to reflect on the ability of our MP to manage upwards in his dealings with central government rather than to be allowed to point the finger at County council or ESBC level. That is the job of any MP regardless of what colour rosette they wear. I have always applauded and will continue to applaud our MP's proactivity on local issues. This being said if the cultivation of a mayoral public image is being used to depoliticise issues and neutralise potential vocal opposition then the MP does not need to be attacked, rather the public needs to be reminded of what the role of an MP is. (b) The political left must also come clean about what it would posit as the alternative to the austerity agenda. Simply to say that it is against austerity and cuts is not good enough. A progressive politics would allow the public to make a genuine choice between austerity and an alternative. Opening up a debate about the political left's commitment to a mixed economy of service provision compared to the political right's pursuit of increasing privatisation would be a good start. All you left wingers should learn to play the ball not the man!

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  • Ohmyohmy  |  August 31 2014, 12:11AM

    Matt Long is right. The cuts that the conservative controlled county council are making are a direct result of the way that our MP has voted for every cut possible, to the NHS, social services, benefits. He has supported the bedroom tax and makes no effort to change the austerity agenda of his party. Yet he appears in the Burton Mail supporting every protest group against the cuts, including mental health. Hypocrisy or what?

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  • mattlong  |  August 31 2014, 12:08AM

    I guess its part of the condition of late modernity that youths are more inclined to identify with each other as members of virtual rather than geographically situated communities. This shift in how young people communicate and identify with each other through subculture can indeed be used to justify the closure of a geographically situated community. This being said it is in the interests of the political right in this country to oversee and accentuate a more atomised and distanciated culture of existence for our young people. The political right is terrified of young working class people forming associations be they leisure or political. It serves a right wing agenda to have people leading privatised lives. Its part of the deliberate agenda to privatise all remaining public space.

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  • dottykat  |  August 30 2014, 9:59PM

    I find it interesting that when the survey of these service throughout the town/county was performed the Winshill Youth Club was missed.... methinks this was perhaps omitted on purpose because the results would have shown how much it is used and how much it will be missed.

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  • mattlong  |  August 30 2014, 9:46PM

    I've actually got a lot of time for Connor Wileman in the sense that the people I know in Briz Valley often comment that he is a pragmatist and a problem solver. This being said when a politician of the political right says ;something has to give' - now is the time for the political left not just to bemoan the loss of a service as Jim Muir and Dennis Fletcher are. What these councillors should be doing is working with Labour PPC Jon Wheale to put pressure on our MP Andrew Griffiths (who again I like and in many ways respect) to ask him why he votes in Parliament on many occasions for measures which endorse the austerity agenda. This issue about provision of services for youth is presented as a 'local' issue but when you trace the lineage of it, it goes right up the political chain to how our MP and his colleagues vote in Parliament. I get little sense of the political left in this town putting our MP under any kind of pressure on this one. By colluding with Wileman and entering a debate about a 'local' issue make no mistake that Muir and Fletcher help to depoliticize the issue and let our MP off the hook.

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