Young people protest youth service cuts in Barnstaple
14:16 09 April 2014
Large group turns out to put pressure on county council
MORE than 20 young people were out in force on Wednesday morning to protest against cuts to the youth service.
Users of North Devon’s youth centres and services came out with banners and leaflets in another bid to alter the county council’s decision to slash youth service funding.
Volunteer at Barnstaple’s ‘Georgies’ youth centre Kelly Spurway, 17, who was also behind a gig to protest the Devon County Council cuts in February, said she organised the static protest at Castle Green in Barnstaple ‘for all the young people who didn’t know how to make their voices heard’.
“The gig was really good, but we wanted to make this more about saving the youth service rather than the young peoples’ talents,” she said.
“It’s about fighting for the youth service and showing we are willing to look at different measures.
“I think it’s good helping people to fight as a lot of people want to fight these cuts but don’t know how to do it.”
Kelly was also invited to a consultation at ‘Geogies’ youth club last week, where she spoke to Devon County Council’s £130,000-a-year strategic director (people) Jennie Stephens.
“She explained that they will be looking at more targeted work, which is great for those people but for others there’s going to be no help whatsoever,” said Kelly.
“I think with the funding we’ve got we could still run the youth service as we currently do but on a smaller scale, but that’s not ‘part of the plan’ and that’s not what’s happening.
“Personally I think they will end up spending more money and young people might start doing more drastic things to get help.”
Devon County Council is still consulting on radical changes to the way the youth service in the county is run, which could see the future of the area’s youth centres cast into doubt.
In February, DCC approved its annual budget, which includes £28million in spending cuts.
Ian Roome, Chairman of Barnstaple Town Council, applauded the young people for ‘making their voices heard’.
“Here is a great opportunity to listen to our youth and what they want,” he said. “They are saying they want to retain these important service and Devon County Council must listen, as we can’t afford to cut our youth services any more than they have in previous years.
“The most vulnerable in our society will be left out. They need that support and by taking this away they are not going to get that support.
“I think this consultation is important because targeted services need to be properly resourced and we need to be more proactive than reactive.”
The consultation on the proposals, which can be read at toughchoices.co.uk, closes on April 27.