Article published: Tuesday, March 22nd 2011
Community activists have written an open letter to Manchester City Council Leader Sir Richard Leese calling on him to rethink the decision to end all Youth Services – which they say was made ‘without consideration of the consequences’ and in disrespect of a legal duty to consult the young people and communities who will be affected.
The unexpected announcement of the decision to abolish the entire Youth Service – which provides not only youth centres but also helps excluded pupils to sit their GCSEs – was met with an angry reaction three weeks ago. This was compounded when local councillors who had previously voiced their concern at the closure of youth centres in their constituencies remained silent on the matter at the full council meeting which voted on the budget.
Manchester City Council is one of the country’s local authorities to be hit worst by the cuts – with more than a quarter of its budget cut for the next financial year, it has been forced into finding savings of £110m for 2011/2012 alone. Yet so far the Labour-controlled authority is the only one in the country which has decided to axe its entire Youth Service.
Now campaigners from Manchester Coalition Against The Cuts, who initiated the letter, are calling on concerned residents to put their name to the letter. They are also asking people to speak to their neighbours and other members of the community and ask them to sign hard copies. The full text of the letter follows below.
You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to add your name to the letter or print off a copy by clicking here
Completed hard copies of the letter should be sent to PO Box 111, Chorlton M21 0AA
Dear Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council.
Save Manchester’s Youth Service!
We write with serious concerns of the consequences of destroying the Manchester Youth Service.
Added to the rising levels of youth unemployment, the removal of the EMA grants and unaffordable tuition fees, and the elimination of Connexions, now the Manchester Youth Service is to be closed, and hundreds of youth workers jobs have already gone.
These Cuts are set to create conditions similar to those seen in this city in the early 1980′s under the Thatcher government. The consequences of having no Youth Service are obvious:
- more young people ‘criminalised’ as they are left to use the streets, as the Youth Centers close
- vulnerable children abandoned by those with whom they can develop relationships, and put at greater risk
- increasing anti social behaviour and rising levels of youth crime
- the attraction of gangs, guns and knives to some of our youth, as positive youth work ceases
- opportunities for racists and fascists to exploit feelings of despair
- a generation of young people abandoned
Your decision to close the Youth Service was made without consideration of the consequences. No Equality Impact Assessment has been done, yet services cannot be legally be changed or scraped without one. Young people and communities were not consulted in line with the Education Act, yet the Council has a statutory duty to consult the youth who use the services.
We demand that you urgently review the closure decisions, and properly consult all those effected by your decision.
The Tory led government is making the biggest cuts to Councils like Manchester that have the largest numbers of young people with the greatest needs. We urge you to adopt a strategy of resistance to these cuts so that funds can be won or located to ensure the continuation of Youth Centres in Manchester
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