Concern over youth service cuts for town

C131477-6 Bog Oct31 Eighteen  phot kate

Chairman Jan Cosgrove.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C13147706

C131477-6 Bog Oct31 Eighteen phot kate Chairman Jan Cosgrove.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C13147706

DEEP concerns have been raised about the impact of cuts in youth services around Bognor Regis.

Jan Cosgrove said West Sussex County Council had a duty under the Education Act 2006 to provide youth services for young people aged under 18.

“I’m concerned at the amount of reduction in the county council’s youth budget, which has been an extraordinary level in the last several years,” he said at last week’s joint western Arun area committee.

He said a council in North Somerset had recently lost a court case about youth service cutbacks because of its failure to consult about the matter with 
young people.

Mr Cosgrove, the acting chairman of Number 18 Project for young people in Bognor, said: “Many of us are facing an uncertain future. We have lost good volunteers and good committees.

“My committee is a strong one and I’m in a fortunate position in some ways.”

Cllr Ann Rapnik, the committee’s chairman, said: “We take on board the deep concerns among many, many youth providers and their volunteers and workers.”

Felpham Parish Council chairman Cllr Paul English told the committee: “Damage is being done to youth services in Arun with the new policies being carried out by the county council.”

Cllr English said the lack of consultation with young people about the loss of some of their facilities was wrong.

“There has been the virtual destruction of the 39 Youth Club in Bognor and the way that was handled by the county council,” he said.

The way ahead was to use parish neighbourhood plans to ask an area’s young people what they would like to see in the next 15 years.

“We did that in Felpham and we had 97 responses through the community college,” he said.

“I don’t think the county council officers have formulated a forum or document to bring in discussions with youths to put their feelings on the table. If they have nowhere to go, no guidance and no help, I feel that is a traversty of justice.”

County councillor Joan Phillips said members of the 39 Club’s charity were talking to the county council about a new lease for part of its premises off Glamis Street before consultations were carried out.

“We are just waiting to see what the lease will entail. There will be a drop-in centre to start with and we will build it up from there.”


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