February 9, 2011
MP attacks county council's youth club cuts
MP has this week hit out at Somerset County Council for threatening
to close two youth groups in the area as part of its latest cost-cutting
reported last week that Lympsham and Wedmore Youth Clubs are
among 18 clubs that have been earmarked to close if community
volunteers cannot be found to run them in a bid to save £2.25m
over three years.
MP Tessa Munt says she is angry that county council cabinet member
John Osman has put forward the plans and claimed that he tough
choices have been caused by a harsh government settlement.
Tessa told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "This is simply not true.
Somerset's funding from the Government has only dropped by two
per cent, which is far more generous than anyone expected, and
much better than many other councils."
"The County Council is using a small Government cut as its
excuse to slash all our services, paying off the Councils
loans early rather than concentrating on its main job, which is
to deliver what is needed for the people of Somerset."
"Fewer youth clubs can only lead to more disaffected teenagers;
then there is the potential for this frustration to show itself
in a greater number of reported incidents of anti-social behaviour
just because young people will meet in the streets and
Tessa will continue to challenge the need for these cuts and
is happy to lend her support to any Youth Clubs in their campaigns
to stay open.
Cllr John Osman responded: "The government settlement is
harsh, with a cut to frontline grants of £27m meaning the
Council has to save £37m next year alone. This is not a
"small government cut" but one that has a huge impact
on the services that the Council can continue to provide. The
Council has received extra funding for capital - or building -
projects but that money cannot be used to support day-to-day spending.
The result is that significant savings have to be made across
the board. Before making any cuts to services, the Council made
significant efficiency savings, with fewer top management posts,
a two year pay freeze and is in the process of slimming the total
staff by up to 1500 over the next three years. We are not cutting
youth services because we want to, but because we have to. That's
why we are forced to approach local communities across Somerset
to explore alternative ways of providing youth services that we
can no longer afford to provide ourselves."