Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/845/20162
Warrington 'vanity project' youth service cuts
Councillor Kevin Bennett, TUSC prospective parliamentary candidate
Warrington's Labour council is pumping millions into a new 'Youth Zone' recreation centre. This is at the expense of professionally trained and paid youth workers - and without listening to the needs of young people themselves.
The borough's youth workers, organised by trade union Unite, lobbied the council's executive meeting on 16 February. Labour cut the already-modest youth service budget by £150,000 last year, and will now slash a further £168,000.
Over the past three years, dozens of youth workers' jobs have gone. Now even more could be under threat.
While it is right for the council to support better provision for our young people, the Youth Zone is not the answer. Labour councillors should engage with young people in a meaningful way about the services they would like to see, and then work to deliver those.
Instead, they are throwing £3 million at charity Onside to build the Youth Zone. It will be based in the more affluent part of the borough, further isolating the most vulnerable. Many youth workers agree it is nothing more than a vanity project for youth services executive member Cllr Jean Carter.
The difficulties that young people face are complex and wide ranging. Youth workers are in regular contact with them for a fraction of the cost of the Youth Zone. Young people constantly tell our youth workers that they want local community venues they can get support from.
It is well known that Labour councillors are divided on the project - but will likely be 'gagged' by their leadership. TUSC supports greater funding for local youth services, and campaigning to win more funds from central government. This is the only way Warrington young people and youth workers will get the support they need and deserve.
Major boost for Warrington TUSC
Councillor Kevin Bennett hammered Warrington's Labour council at the borough's first TUSC meeting. Labour's Tory-lite pro-austerity actions and undemocratic bullying of opposition are why he now sits as a TUSC councillor. Kevin is running for Warrington South in the general election, and explained why:
"Warrington South is now a four-way marginal seat - TUSC is here and TUSC is going to stay. Look at Greece and Spain, it's coming here. Voters feel disenfranchised and that politicians are detached from real life.
"TUSC and I will be talking about what kind of services we need - like the youth service, and saving our health service. I'm making five pledges: to fight against cuts in public services, against cuts to the NHS, for a living wage, against welfare cuts, and for renationalisation of the railways."
Contributions from the floor by residents, trade unionists and activists from across the region were unanimously supportive. Several are now thinking of standing for TUSC in the local elections.
We will be carrying out weekly activity, especially on weekends. If you can help, contact Kevin on 07480 840 487, firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook.
In The Socialist 25 February 2015:
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