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Posted on 14 August 2011 at 13:14 GMT

Reverse youth service cuts says Salford Unison

Below are extracts from a letter to Salford council Labour leader John Merry that was written on Friday 12th August by Salford Unison branch secretary Steve North in response to comments John Merry made on the riots in Salford earlier in the week.
Dear Councillor Merry,

I would like to respond to your statement on behalf of Salford City Council with a statement on behalf of Salford City UNISON. The drafting of this letter was prepared with the help and assistance of UNISON members who work in all areas of the Council and in organisations such as Salix Homes, City West Housing, Salford Community Leisure and other organisations.

We do not support the actions of those who caused unrest on Tuesday night.

The riots caused our members disruption in their communities, fear in their homes and could have placed them in danger. However, many of them still chose to continue with their jobs while the riots went on because they felt they could bring something positive to a negative situation.

Our members in Youth Services went down to the Precinct to converse with and listen to the young people there. They went to tell them to reconsider their actions, but also to remind them that there are still people who haven't written them off.

...We cannot condone the actions of those who rioted, but nor can we condone the cuts that have taken place in Salford's Youth Services and Connexions over the previous six months.

Child poverty in Salford stands at 60%. In some wards youth unemployment is as high as 40%.

...Our members in youth services, education welfare, looked after children's teams, schools, nurseries and many other areas are fighting an uphill battle to offer young people a decent future in a world that seems unwilling to provide one.

Whether a banker, a politician or a drug dealer, our society sends a message that the greedy and the selfish will be rewarded. And the reward for the hard-working and honest? Pay cuts, job losses and insecurity.

...Your praise for those who helped with the clean-up on Wednesday morning was correct. Those people truly show what is best about Salford.

What was missing in your statement however, was praise for those who spend everyday cleaning up the mess cuts to vital public services leave behind.

...In addition to reversing these cuts, we would like to see Salford Council set up its own task force involving elected councillors, the trade unions, community groups and young people themselves so that we can start to look at providing a forum where the voice of those who feel marginalised can be properly heard.

Such an initiative would need to be genuine and those with authority would need to be willing to act on the difficult truths that would no doubt emerge.

...We look forward to your response.

Yours, Steven North, Branch Secretary, Salford City UNISON

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