Thanks for those who gave views on future of Wiltshire's youth services

Wiltshire Times: Coun Laura Mayes, Wiltshire's cabinet member for children’s services Coun Laura Mayes, Wiltshire's cabinet member for children’s services

Wiltshire Council is thanking the hundreds of people who took part in a consultation which asked communities for feedback on how youth activities should be delivered in the future.

The comments and feedback are now being collated and will inform a report which will go before council leaders on May 15.

Local people, schools, voluntary organisations, council staff and youth focus groups took part in the ten-week consultation which asked for views on the following four options for future provision:

• Retain the current in-house service but reduce the budget. A number of options would be considered to make the required savings and deliver a service that meets the needs of young people in local community areas. 

• Outsource the service – this option would involve developing a new service specification for the provision of positive leisure-time activities; shaped by key stakeholders, including young people based on the resources available. 

• Encourage and support staff to form a public service mutual (PSM). A mutual can deliver a public service involving a high degree of employee control. It can operate for profit, not for profit, charity, social enterprise and community interest company. 

• Develop a community-led approach which will empower communities via community area boards, with funding from the council, to develop and make available positive leisure-time youth activities within their local area.

Wiltshire Council carried out the consultation, which closed last week, to hear from communities – particularly young people – on how funding for youth activities can be targeted more effectively and benefit more of the county’s young residents.

In response, 1,770 young people completed an electronic survey, more than 500 took part in focus groups and 21 young people sent in letters or emails with their views.

Six groups of young people also gave presentations to area boards and five petitions were received.

There were also 38 letters and 26 responses from voluntary and community organisations, as well as comments from the Wiltshire Parent Carers Council and area boards which received a presentation on the review.

Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children’s services, said: "I’d like to thank everyone who has taken part in this consultation.

"This feedback will help us make this important decision and it’s great we’ve had so many responses.

“We are now looking carefully at all the information and feedback so we can decide how we can provide a modern service which meets the needs of our young people.”

During the consultation, the council stated that its preferred option was to develop a community-led approach to tie in with the emerging campus programme – an innovative scheme which will deliver services which communities want to see in their area developed in multi-purpose, modern community buildings.

It emphasised that no decisions about the future of the youth service have yet been made.

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