Stoke & Staffordshire

Thousands sign petition over Staffordshire youth cuts

Youth cuts petition Image copyright Staffordshire Youth and Community Service
Image caption Campaigners handed the petition to the county council offices in Martin Street on Tuesday

More than 15,000 people have signed a petition urging the county council not to make cuts to the youth service in Staffordshire, the union Unite said.

It said 38 youth clubs and projects could be closed with about 400 youth workers losing their jobs.

The authority plans to stop directly providing youth services to save £2.8m in the next financial year, rising to £4.5m a year until 2021.

It said it would debate the issue at a council meeting on 13 March.

John Butcher, chairman of Unite's Staffordshire branch, said the council's plan was "short-sighted".

"Youth clubs are not about ping-pong and pool in a church hall as some councillors think, it's about giving young people opportunities and guidance on things like jobs, sexual health and education," he said.

"We'd like to see some services left so that there are professional, qualified youth workers left to support young people in the county."

Image caption Campaigners held a protest in Stafford town centre in February

Mr Butcher said the council's plans would see 50 full-time and 350 part-time workers made redundant.

The council said its research showed four out of five young people in Staffordshire had never used a county council-funded youth facility or activity.

Cabinet member for community safety Mark Sutton said the authority was currently studying responses from a seven-week consultation on youth services.

The council said it needed to save £109m from its overall budget over the next five years.

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