Dear Mr Fox

Thank you for your letter of 27 June regarding the youth services review, and the future of the Broughton Gifford and Holt Youth Project.

I understand the concern that some may feel about the proposals for youth services and hope that I can reassure you on these, and offer you a solution for your Youth Project.

As I have said, your model of volunteers working with trained staff is one we want to see across the County and want to ensure your Youth Project continues.

You are concerned that “the young people in our county are being marginalised”.

The aim of the new model for the Youth service is to ensure more young people have access to a range of suitable activities.

We received over 5,000 responses from young people to our consultation. One of the clearest messages received is that young people want a greater say in the services provided for them.

We also received 182 responses from young people in the Bradford and Melksham post code areas, with the community-led model by far the most supported option: Community Led – 50%; Outsource – 15%; Staff Mutual – 13%; Keep in house – 22%.

By delegating decision-making to community areas and ensuring that young people have a strong voice on each Local Youth Network to advise the decision-making, the young people will have more, not less, influence than at present.

With regard to the consultation between February and April 2014, we received the comments of the Broughton Gifford and Holt Youth Project to our consultation on 13 April.

I am sorry that you do not feel that you received adequate responses to your comments. As I said above, we were inundated with responses and it has been hard to give a full answer to everyone who supplied their views.

In addition, we needed the answers from the consultation to form the design for the new services. We made considerable changes to the model as a result of the feedback, particularly from young people.

With regard to vulnerable and needy young people, I share your view that appropriate support services are necessary.

Therefore, each community area will have a fully qualified Community Youth Officer, who will be the go-to person for all Young People and everyone in the community who wants to get involved with youth projects.

That officer will be able to engage the relevant specialists from the council’s wide range of professional services (which includes drug abuse, youth offending, gender issues, etc.), as necessary.

In addition, there will be Targeted Youth Workers who will work young people identified by the Community Youth Officer who need more intensive one-to-one support.

The Holt Youth Club does not operate from a council-youth centre and so is not affected by the council’s proposals for those youth centres. It is affected by the change in our staffing provisions but you will be at liberty to apply to the Local Youth Network for support and will be able to seek funds from other sources.

The Community Youth Officer will be able to help you organise this. I am aware of about 68 youth groups in Wiltshire that are not directly staffed by Wiltshire Council, as your group has been, and I am sure you will be able to learn from their experiences about provision in this regard.

With regard to finance, the expected fund for the Bradford on Avon Community Area will be at least £18,451 in a full year, not £9,000 as you suggest.

The cost of a three hour session employing two fully qualified staff is about £60.00 gross (£35.00 for the leader and £25.00 for an assistant). Thus, to open for 3 hours a week, the club would have to find £2,400 for a 40 week year or £3,000 for 50 weeks. You might consider asking the Area Board via the Local Youth Network for funds to do this.

Finally, I am sorry you think that the youth services review has been clandestine.

We conducted a wide ranging consultation over ten weeks that generated a substantial response. During that time we made presentations to all Area Boards across the county at public meetings. (I did the briefing at Bradford on Avon Area Board).

Our process has been the subject of two reports to cabinet which can be read on line and which were discussed at two cabinet meetings held in public. The whole process has been subject to scrutiny by the Children's Select Committee.

I have asked Mal Mundy, the Wiltshire Council officer who is working on this project to contact you to give you any further guidance you require.

I hope this letter gives you the information you require and that the Broughton Gifford and Holt Youth Project will be encouraged to engage constructively in the future delivery of youth services in your area.

Please contact me if you need further support.

Yours sincerely,

LAURA MAYES, Wiltshire councillor for Roundway, Lead Member for Children's Services