Councillor angry as youth service motion defeated at Essex Council

Politics / Wed 11th Dec 2013 am31 09:15am

AN ESSEX COUNTY councillor has expressed her anger at losing a vote over youth services in Harlow and the rest of the county.

At a full Council meeting of Essex County Council on Tuesday 9dec 10th), Councillor Karen Clempner (Labour), Harlow West Division, spoke in favour of a motion that she believed, would have mitigated some of the worst effects of proposed cuts to the Youth Service in Harlow, and across Essex.

In the council chamber Cllr Clempner said:

“I have listened first hand to many personal and moving stories from young people, and the not so young, how the Youth Service has turned lives around, stopped young people straying into crime, and helped out with mental health issues or substance abuse.

“It is the trained and professional Youth Workers, that are the glue, providing a trusted shoulder to lean on, and a gateway to other services.

“Suddenly cutting this service off, without a sensible transition to an alternative service, and which takes into account true local needs would have devastating consequences on the lives of individuals, on families, and whole communities.

“While I would urge the Council not to take the easy option and target those who don’t have a vote, and already struggle to have their voice heard, this motion, which advocates a more measured approach, building capacity, recognising local needs, and providing an orderly transition to alternative provision, may be the least worst option.”

In a named vote, the Conservative controlled administration defeated the motion. Councillor Eddie Johnson (Conservative), Harlow South East Division, voted with his party against the motion.

After the meeting Cllr Clempner said

“It is a pity that the cross party support to protect Youth Services in Harlow was not carried through to Councillor Johnson’s vote at County Hall. I will however not be giving up to ensure that the young people of Harlow have a voice, and fighting to get the best deal for Harlow, regardless of party affiliations.”

The motion stated:

‘Following the recent Youth Service Public Consultation, this Council considers the proposed cut in the Essex Youth Service budget, which is expected to save £3 million by 2015 / 2016, should be placed on hold.
This Council, therefore, calls for:

(1) The existing £5 million Youth Service budget to be ring-fenced for the next two years.
(2) The current Youth Service staffing levels to be maintained for the next two years.
(3) The Youth Strategy Groups across Essex to be given more devolved powers to allocate funding and resources as soon as possible.
(4) A major youth volunteer recruitment programme to be started as soon as possible across the County.
(5) Any major changes arising from the Youth Service Public consultation to be phased in over the next 2/3 years to ensure there is continuity of service out in the community and that Youth volunteers are adequately trained to meet the ever changing needs of our young people.’

Motion was defeated 40 votes against, 32 votes for.

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