Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/703/13665
The Socialist 1 February 2012 |
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Save Derbyshire youth services!
On the afternoon of Monday 30 January over 100 people held a rally and march in Chesterfield before the first consultation meeting into the future of youth services in Derbyshire. Young people from Eckington youth club had collected petition signatures to defend the services.
Derbyshire county council is proposing the closure of 29 youth centres and the sacking of 157 youth workers. The Tory-controlled council justifies this attack on the basis that, according to their figures, only 28% of 13-19 year olds use them regularly.
The leader of the council, Andrew Lewer, says that the youth service is therefore too expensive to run. What is really behind these proposals is the desire to have these vital services run by volunteers as opposed to full-time paid staff.
Gregory Roberts, one of the young people that helped organise the rally, said: "I don't think they see behind the scenes what the youth workers do for us. They don't see it as a valuable thing that they are doing. I think there are other ways of making money other than cutting these services.
"They've obviously held this meeting at a time when people are at work to stop them from coming to it. But it's still clear the support that we've got."
After the march, over 200 people attempted to get into the consultation meeting but were refused entry at first, being told that they should have registered beforehand. Eventually, the meeting was moved into a bigger room to accommodate everyone.
The council's 'consultation' is in reality forcing ordinary people who are desperately trying to save the services they rely on to tell the council what other service should be cut instead.
Young people and their supporters in Derbyshire are determined to carry on fighting to defend youth services and jobs in the county, but the only way to secure victory is to unite service users and workers to say no to all cuts.