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Surrey Lib Dems say: “Open up our youth centres!”

October 3, 2016 10:46 AM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

Questioning by Lib Dem councillors has uncovered that Surrey County Council youth centres are only open for a very limited number of hours, with one centre in the county that is only open for just over ONE hour per week.

In a response to a question by Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, it was revealed that a total of 23 youth centres across the county were open for only 5 or less hours per week, making it difficult to meet the needs of young people in Surrey. The Tory-run County Council also admitted that 254 hours a week of youth work is not being provided due to vacancies within the youth service.

Earlier this year Liberal Democrats criticised the Tories at County Hall after it emerged that there had been a £200,000 under-spend on youth services by the Council in the year ending on 31st March 2016. This followed the budget meeting at County Hall in February 2016 where Liberal Democrat councillors criticised the Conservative administration for the deep cuts they made to the service and the virtual halving of provision in some areas.

A recent County Council report into the management of the youth service criticised the inadequate use of resources within the service, such as the lack of control of spending on purchase cards and the loss of IT equipment, with 13 "High Priority" recommendations for action.

To highlight the insufficient provision that young people in Surrey are receiving, Liberal Democrats are asking for the Cabinet Member for Children and Families Wellbeing to review the current arrangements, with a view to extending opening hours of youth centres wherever possible.

Cllr Hazel Watson outside The Malthouse youth centre in Dorking

Cllr Hazel Watson outside The Malthouse youth centre in Dorking

Cllr Watson said:

"The County Council's youth centres have a vital role to play in providing positive activities and support for young people to help overcome their problems, as well as a safe space for them to meet and socialise. Surrey's youth centres need to be opened up with a drastic increase in their opening hours so that young people in Surrey can benefit. At the moment,many young people in our communities are left on the streets with nothing to do whilst council-owned youth centres are locked up.This doesn't help our young people and is a complete waste of resources.

"The Tory administration did not spend £200K of the budget allocated for the youth service last year and have allowed IT equipment to go missing and resources, such as purchase cards, to be misused. The running of the youth service urgently needs to be improved so that funding and resources are not wasted and are used for the benefit of Surrey's young people".

"Liberal Democrats in Surrey are clear - we need to invest in our youth services so that our young people get the best start in life. We need centres with sufficient youth workers to provide a proper service, and that are open for enough hours a week to meet the demands of our young people. Liberal Democrats in Surrey will continue to hold the Tory Council to account for its inadequate funding of youth centres, and mismanagement of youth service resources".