A bid to use £225,000 saved by making senior staff redundant to provide a transitional service for youth services in Wiltshire was rejected by the council today.
Wiltshire councillors Jon Hubbard and Trevor Cabin put forward the motion, which requested the money be made available to provide street based youth workers to work with existing and emerging community providers for the next 18 months.
The motion came following the council’s decision in May to restructure its community youth activities after cuts to the service’s budget, which has seen workers made redundant and youth centres closed.
Cllr Hubbard said the motion was being put forward due to “very real concerns” that the council was doing too much, too quickly, and that the new model needed to be phased in.
“This is not a debate which will pass a judgement on whether the changes to the provision of youth services in Wiltshire are a good thing or not, or whether indeed these changes should be implemented or not,” he said.
“We are closing our youth centres, shutting down our co-ordinated youth activities and, in effect, rejecting our young people before we have any idea about how we will fill the gap that has been created.”
The new model will see a more community-led approach, with youth services co-ordinated from the county’s 18 area boards, with every area board having a community youth officer to work with community groups and support developing Local Youth Networks.
However, Cllr Hubbard added: “Rather than an ordered transitional approach, currently the council is adopting a Big Bang approach to the introduction of the new model.”
Cllr Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children’s services, responded by saying that the council had gone through a long consultation period to come up with the new model and that the motion would mean starting over again.
Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott added that the money Cllr Hubbard was speaking of did not exist as it was part of the savings in the overall council budget.
The motion was defeated with 30 members voting for and 49 voting against.
Members of Bradford on Avon’s youth club Cherry Riley, 17, Alysha Green, 16, and Jade Britton, 13, spoke in favour of the motion before the debate and afterwards said were “frustrated” by the outcome of the vote.