Youth services ‘cut adrift’ by council axe

C121167-1  Stock Chichester County Hall phot kate
C121167-1 Stock Chichester County Hall phot kate

YOUNG people and volunteers are set to face the fallout from budget cuts which will see 119 youth workers lose their jobs.

West Sussex County Council is proposing to slash £1.65m of funding for the Youth Support and Development Service (YSDS).

Many youth groups in Chichester and its surrounding villages already rely on volunteers and community fundraising.

“We feel completely cut adrift,” said Jayne Sansby, chairman of the management committee of Tangmere Youth Club.

“We have been self-financing from April. When I heard the news I was stunned. How much more can they cut? They have taken away the funding and now they are taking the staff away.”

Mike Nicholls, from Selsey Youth Dream, anticipated the cuts and the community battled to fund a new youth worker.

“We knew further cuts were on the way. In a sense we braced ourselves for 
the news.”

The cuts were proposed at the council’s children and young persons select committee on Thursday.

“It seems to me what you are proposing to do is save a lot of money by falling back on community and voluntary groups,” said councillor Bernard Smith.

Dan Sartin, branch secretary for Unison, said staff were ‘in shock’.

“This is a complete bolt from the blue for them,” 
he said. “It really feels as if the service is being turned on 
its head.

“We haven’t even had George Osborne’s autumn statement and we are being told in the news that the economy is picking up, yet staff are losing their livelihoods and beginning to prepare for a selection process.”

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said the decision was going to be the ‘first of many difficult decisions’.

“The chips are down financially for us,” she told the committee.

The service works alongside the youth justice system and is responsible for helping young people aged ten to 25 into work, education and training. Stuart Gallimore, executive director of the children’s services, said it would be ‘inconceivable’ for the youth service not to make a contribution to the cuts.

Cabinet member Peter Evans will make a final decision next month.