Plans for Epworth and Crowle youth services passed

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CONTROVERSIAL plans for a shake up youth services in Epworth and Crowle have been given the go-ahead at a marathon three-hour council meeting.

The first time the plans for the new-look youth service was given a public airing was at a heated meeting of North Lincolnshire’s people scrutiny committee attended by more than 40 members of the public.

Most of those were former and current youth workers and the youngsters, anxious for nothing already offered by the council to be lost.

Their dislike of the plans was so vehement that it prompted Coun Rob Waltham to say: “I am not a warped dictator. I don’t want to attack people. I want to make things better.”

Some councillors tried to get the motion referred to full council but it was voted to accept Coun Waltham’s proposals to strip out the current in-house provision and replace it with contracted-in services.

Under the proposals Epworth and Crowle, which currently have six sessions between them every week, would have eight, with the addition of Duke of Edinburgh Award activities.

It is also planned to introduce a rural transport scheme to allow youngsters to attend other parts of North Lincolnshire for activities. It is also proposed to have summer-holiday activities, and a team of ‘floating’ youth workers.

A major concern of the members of the public was that the new plans would leave young people without someone they trusted to provide advice on issues such as sexual health, drug and alcohol abuse and housing and benefits.

Coun Waltham’s report said the new arrangements would save £150,000 a year, but he also repeatedly told the meeting that the current £600,000 funding was not been reduced. After the meeting he told The Bells that both statements were both correct, because the saving would be spent on further, as-yet undefined, youth provision.

Coun Sue Godfrey agreed that young people needed support and were in very real danger of being let down.

She was applauded when she said: “They feel as if the rug has been pulled from under their feet. We have a youth service that is crucial. Young people need support. It is a harsh world, and they need support more than ever. This proposal doesn’t sound like a youth service, it sounds like a lot of ad hoc things.”