Councillor says time is right for changes to youth services

A county councillor has said “the time is right” to make controversial changes to youth services in Lichfield and Burntwood.

A cross-party scrutiny committee at Staffordshire County Council has backed a decision to close youth centres across the county.

The move is part of plans to save millions over the next five years and comes after it was revealed that three quarters of young people didn’t use youth clubs.

Robbie Marshall

Robbie Marshall

Cllr Robbie Marshall, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing, said the need for youth services had changed in recent years.

“The time is right to focus much more on what young people do want, such as doing well and finding a job, and less on what they don’t want and don’t use,” he said. “This is especially important at a time of reducing resources.

“Council-run youth clubs worked well in a different time, but nowadays there are so many different clubs, groups and activities available that the vast majority of young people have a much wider choice of how they spend their leisure time.

“This fresh approach is about improving services in the community and increasing access to schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh, which supports young people’s desire for education and job opportunities.”

The changes were made in the face of strong opposition, including a petition with more than 16,000 signatures.

And Burntwood county councillor Sue woodward said: “The County Council’s cabinet seems to think that services can be replaced through the voluntary sector, but this just won’t happen without proper resourcing and support.

“We are all aware that things need to change and move forward but this simply won’t happen with this level of cuts.”

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