Councillors’ fears over youth services

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Councillors have spoken of their fears for the youth service in the central area of the High Peak as a result of funding cuts.

Members of Derbyshire County Council have recently agreed around £250,000 extra investment in youth services across the county which includes £25,600 for the High Peak and Dales.

However, the High Peak is the only area of Derbyshire where even with the additional funding, the predicted spend on services is actually less than the current budget - down £26,379 to £185,028 compared to the current budget of £237,005.

Speaking at the monthly meeting of Whaley Bridge Town Council last Thursday, Cllr David Lomax said: “Back in the days when I was a teacher we had a document that said every child matters. It appears to be every child matters unless you’re in the High Peak as far as Derbyshire County Council are concerned.

“If there were cuts across the board then I’d say fair enough but cuts in the High Peak to fund extra money in other areas of Derbyshire, I just don’t think is acceptable.”

And Cllr Rodney Gilmour added: “There is an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in this country. Our hospitals are full of people with liver disease from alcohol abuse. Any agency working with youths to steer them as far as possible away from these things because they are just so damaging is massively important, regardless of where you come from. There is no difference between a youth in Whaley Bridge and one in Erewash.”

The town council is to write to Derbyshire County Council, expressing their concerns not just about the youth services in Whaley Bridge but also those in neighbouring towns including Chapel-en-le-Frith.

Cllr Lomax added: “I also think we need to put in about continuity so that people can build up a relationship which is vitally important.”

Derbyshire County Council said there were no plans to end youth services in Whaley Bridge.

Councillor Damien Greenhalgh, Deputy Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “The previous council proposed cuts of nearly £52,000 for the High Peak.

“We’ve done everything we can to minimise this and have managed to reduce it to £25,600 – despite facing budget cuts of £157m from central government.

“We don’t want to reduce spending on youth services but we’ve got to make very difficult decisions because of the unprecedented budget reductions.

“That’s why we’re investing money in the most vulnerable young people who are most in need of our services and cannot access help in any other way.”