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Posted on 15 December 2010 at 16:36 GMT

Vicious cuts to youth services in Bromley, south London

In Bromley, home to local government minister Bob Neill, the Tory council is proposing to cut 40% of the support services for schools, youth services and support for vulnerable young people finding work or going into education or training.

Glenn Kelly, staff-side secretary and elected council workers' representative said: "To cut these services at a time when the prospects for young people are looking bleaker by the minute, with the right of access to education and work being severely restricted, is an act of madness and callousness, particularly when the council is sitting on 50 million in the bank."

Glenn went on to add: "Next year will see the ending of the Education Maintenance Allowance grant (EMA) which is a lifeline for many young people to stay in education.

"There are to be 80% cuts in higher education teacher funding and already some 20,000 university places have been cut.

"In addition, MPs have voted for the introduction of tuition fees of up to 9,000 a year. All of these measures will cut off the avenue of remaining in education for many young people.

"For those young people looking to the world of work, the prospects are no better. Youth unemployment is currently at one million, with 18-24 year olds now the fastest-growing group of long-term unemployed. Eleven people are chasing every vacancy in Bromley.

"Add to this the further attacks on young people's already limited rights to benefits.

"All of these factors are justly building a powder keg of anger and frustration among a generation in a way not seen since the 1980s.

"In this climate it is 'social suicide' for the council to be proposing to slaughter 40% of key services for young people in the borough, as proposed in the management report. The cost to maintain these services will be far outweighed by the long-term costs that will occur should they be cut."

In an unprecedented move, instead of the decision being taken at an open public meeting where staff and young people could attend to hear the debate, Bromley council have moved the meeting from 7pm to 4pm in the afternoon and the public and press will have to leave the meeting while the item is debated.

Glenn Kelly said: "Is this what the Tories mean by 'localism' and 'people power'? First we have national politicians lying to young people about what they would do if elected and now we have local politicians slaughtering youth services in secret.

"No wonder young people and workers are angry. If the government minister Eric Pickles thinks the cuts can be made without hitting frontline services then he should get out of his ivory tower in Westminster and see what's happening on the ground."

For more information, contact Glenn Kelly, staff side secretary, on 02083134405/ 07595352795

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