Jobs to go as bid to throw Isle youth service shake-up is rejected

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UP to 10 youth worker posts will be lost in a shake-up of the service across North Lincolnshire, and part-time Isle staff will be affected.

But Epworth and Crowle youth centres will remain open, amid £100,000 investment to the youth sector, claimed council leader Liz Redfern.

Accusations flew at last week’s rowdy budget-setting meeting, when the ruling Conservative group was told youth service users had been duped in changes that lacked proper consultation.

Axholme North ward member Coun Trevor Barker said a survey of 2,220 young people, including 540 in the Isle, had been “an exercise in manipulation.”

He blasted: “You didn’t get the answers you wanted, so you ignored them. The young people had no idea that their responses would change youth services in North Lincolnshire.”

Coun Barker continued: “If the people who put in bids to run the service disappear after two years and we have got rid of youth workers, we will have no-one to run our centres.”

A bid by the Labour Party for a new consultation on the changes that will see council-employed youth workers replaced by those from other organisations, was quashed by the council.

David Plumtree, of Scunthorpe Voluntary Action, said that vital relationships formed by dedicated youth workers would be lost.

He said relationships have been built up over time by staff and added: “It is this quality that this decision loses.”

All together, the meeting heard, 74 part-time workers would be affected, equating to 13 full-time positions. Sixteen new outreach posts, equivalent to three-and-a-half full-time posts will leave an overall loss of below 10 full-time posts, the meeting heard.

Council members said change was necessary because only 15 per cent of potential users take up the service.

Cabinet member Coun Rob Waltham said provision at Epworth and Crowle would increase from three nights to four, with greater weekend and holiday provision, and enhanced services for disabled youngsters.

Scunthorpe-based Labour member Coun Tony Gosling said: “Enhanced provision is good – but I am concerned about people losing their jobs and the young people who felt they had not been engaged enough.

“Something about this just feels wrong; we haven’t taken the people with us; the young people the service is aimed at. All we asked for was consultation – nothing more.”

Council leader Liz Redfern said: “There has been a lot of misinformation around this topic. Youth clubs will not close and no-one will be turned away. We shall make sure there are opportunities for young people.”