Published: February 9, 2011
Burnham-On-Sea MP attacks county council's youth club cuts

Burnham-On-Sea's 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 exercise. first 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 "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 Council’s 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 playgrounds instead."

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."

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