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'Youth clubs better off in hands of communities' - council

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The shadow children and young people portfolio holder Alan Macro (Lib Dem, Theale) said that last year’s £1 million plus council underspend last year could have kept open the 13 youth clubs it closed to save cash.
A report was presented to a council scrutiny panel on the state of provisions around West Berkshire last Tuesday which outlined how various villages had coped, whether they had started their own club nights up or put other arrangements in place.
Only four have since re-opened and Mr Macro said the council had failed young people and risked racking up future problems by leaving youngsters to hang around on the streets.
“The direct cost of running a youth club session (i.e. one evening per week) was given to me by a senior WBC officer as being about £6,000 per year. This is very little money for a great return,” he said.
“The council took £1.5m more from the taxpayer last year than they needed to cover their spending on services. The Conservatives would have needed to spend only a small part of this to keep the youth clubs open.”
The leader of the council, Graham Jones (Con, Lambourn) said Mr Macro’s claims were misguided.
“Over four years our support from government falls by 28 per cent. There is no way we can balance the budget without making some difficult choices - I'm afraid Cllr Macro and his Lib Dem colleagues are making silly claims but then run away from the difficult decisions.
“We are pledged to work with local communities and parishes to strengthen youth service provision. Local communities are best placed to understand the needs of their young people. General youth service provision has been transferred to local communities. This is being supported by grants such as the Community Solutions fund.”

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