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Devon climbs down from total youth service cuts

PUBLISHED: 09:30 07 June 2014

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County council proposing to keep eight centres open as ‘youth hubs’, including in Barnstaple and Bideford.

YOUNG people will be staging a silent vigil outside County Hall in Exeter on Wednesday as the future of Devon’s youth service is decided.

Controversial plans to cut £1m million from the youth service budget and threaten the future of all 32 youth centres in the county have been scaled back to proposals to keep eight ‘youth centre hubs’.

In North Devon, this would mean Barnstaple and Bideford, but South Molton, Chulmleigh, Holsworthy, Braunton and Ilfracombe still face an uncertain future.

Today, young people from across Devon plan a silent and peaceful sit in vigil outside County Hall before the cabinet meeting at 10.30am to make one last protest at the youth service cuts.

Following consultation, Devon County Council is now proposing to see the eight hubs developed for wider community use, as well as inject £200,000 to enable community groups or volunteers to start up or run their own youth services using council buildings.

It would still mean the equivalent of 60 job losses from Devon Youth Service, but is a climb down from the original plan to withdraw the service altogether, which saw teenagers across Devon staging rallies in protest.

It is proposed the new hubs will help develop local satellite services and support people in the community seeking to run services themselves.

The council said it had received more than 100 formal expressions of interest from voluntary groups and people seeking to help develop local provision.

Announcing the new model, Devon’s cabinet member for young people, Councillor James McInnes, said:

“This council is fully committed to continuing to protect, nurture and support our young people and we fully recognise the value of local youth services to our communities.

“For the Devon youth service not to wither away over time we have to be creative and bold in order to keep what is most important while putting things on a more sustainable basis.

“I believe our solution offers the best opportunity to both target our limited resources on the most vulnerable whilst harnessing the capacity and expertise of a professional youth service to help build local networks and support the development of local community based provision.”

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