YOUTH centres will be taken over by volunteers and youth workers will lose their jobs despite desperate pleas for a re-think on major cuts to services in Staffordshire.
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet yesterday gave the go ahead to plans to “revamp” the service amid claims three quarters of young people do not use council youth services.
It means the authority will move out of directly managing youth centres.
But parishes, including Doxey, Stone and Colwich are looking at potentially taking over youth centres and trying to get more volunteers involved.
The county council plans could also see up to 400 youth workers losing their jobs as the bosses look to save £2.8 million a year. Youth club buildings will be handed to the Strategic Property Unit, SCVYS and local partners to look at the future usage and position of each property.
But the news was greeted with anger by protesters, who gathered outside to show their opposition to the plans and shouted “shame on you” to councillors when the decision was made.
Councillor Robbie Marshall, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, insisted the authority had listened closely during the consultation held in January and February, and had taken a 16,000 signature petition into account.
He said they had modified the original plans as a result to provide each district with funding so they could tailor services to suit their area and demand.
He said: “The majority of young people never use county council funded facilities or take part in activities funded by the council. We are not delivering to the best of our ability and cannot continue the status quo.
“We have to change and we have to adapt to each area. What is right for Cannock will not be right for South Staffordshire so each one will have a different offering based on local need.”
Councillor Marshall said resources would also be used to ensure services and activities continued for vulnerable young people aged up to 25.
And he rubbished claims anti-social behaviour would rocket if centres closed.
“In Northamptonshire, which has done a similar thing, they found incidents went down and crime steadily fell,” he added.
Councillor Mark Sutton said: “It is not our intention to stop helping young people. We are going to move out of directly providing youth clubs.”
But speaking afterwards Staffordshire youth councillor Joe Porter, 17, said: “It is very disappointing and we will be campaigning against removing vital services for young people.
“I do like the idea of each district being able to adapt their services but I don’t agree with stripping services right back. The whole area will suffer.”
Michelle Williams, team leader for positive activities at Staffordshire County Council, said: “They say they don’t want youth clubs to close but we know it will happen.”