Southampton Council plan to spend absolutely nothing on youth services in the next financial year. The UK national debt is currently above £1tr, and Cameron’s stone age economic policy aims to pay this money back whilst we sit in the middle of the country’s largest ever recession.
The Labour Council here have accepted the outdated fiscal cuts and their budget for April will save £18.1 million. Youth services currently costs the council £731,000 per year (just 0.0000006% of the national debt) and is being cut, while the council still spends money on services benefiting the middle-classes, such as promoting art and culture. The Daily Echo reports that the council currently owns roughly £190m worth of art, and will be forking out £1m per year for the next ten years on new arts developments).
Southampton SOS is a campaign group against the cuts suggests that without youth services the city will see a rise in crime and anti-social behaviour, which in turn will cost the council more money.
The following graffiti on the underpass linking Avenue Campus to the Common expresses their concern:
One of the services at risk is Woolston and Weston Duke of Edinburgh Open Award Centre used by the university’s Duke of Edinburgh Society. Donald Henderson, Vice President for the society said
“Closing the Woolston Youth Club could mean the end of the DofE society at Southampton Uni. We rely on them for kit and their trained volunteers to lead expeditions. [...] For the rest of the week the centre is run as a youth club”
The centre is currently funded by the council and provides a place for children to meet outside of school. It is used as both a youth club and a meeting place for children to organise their Duke of Edinburgh activities. Doing the Duke of Edinburgh award is highly thought of by potential employers, gives the children confidence, a chance to make friends and stay healthy.
This is not a ‘nice-to-have’ or a ‘luxury’ service. The service offers vital support to our cities most vulnerable or disadvantaged children and young people, and the communities we all live in.Unison
Whilst it is important for councils to be efficient, it is outrageous to suggest we should lose these critical services. The Liberal Democrats have accused Labour as having a ‘lack of imagination’, and have put forward an alternative budget proposal which will see more money given to the youth services as well as care costs for the disabled, community safety and the protection of jobs. It will be interesting to see if the council consider these changes when they meet on Tuesday.
Southampton SOS are staging a peaceful protest today at 4pm outside the Civic Centre.
“This may be the last chance young people will have at trying to convince the current labour council to overturn their ludicrous, far from reality budget proposals… Join in and support the young people in this city whilst they present their deputation.
We will also being showing our presence in the city centre this coming Saturday from 12:30pm outside West Quay where we have info and petitions to sign.”
The local council have been contacted for a response, which shall be published as soon as it is received.