CRITICS claim ongoing cuts to the youth service in Cheshire are hurting staff and young people.
Ray McHale, of Unison, hit out as a number of employees transferred back to Cheshire West and Chester Council from the council-owned Connexions company after it went into administration.
He described as ‘nonsense’ claims in a council briefing note that CWaC was inheriting ‘a hugely motivated staff group’.
He said: “The staff working on the CWaC contract have been cut from 83 down to 54; the third round of massive cuts in three years.
“Union reps are reporting that a number of staff are off sick with stress and the pressure of maintaining the service while redundancy and closure consultations are taking place. CWaC even asked that service delivery be suspended for a month because they were struggling to find youth workers to staff youth clubs.”
Lib Dem councillor Bob Thompson (Hoole), who is unhappy at the state of the service, said: “There are young people who will be hurt as a consequence.
“I don’t care what vehicle it is as long as it is a sound and safe vehicle that delivers to the young people. It’s the young people that matter and in the absence of an alternative they are being badly let down.”
CWaC has shut the former Connexions shop in Northgate Street with services relocated an existing base to Cuppin Street as a cost-cutting measure.
And a members’ briefing accepts the service will ‘not be perfect” to begin with and must be refined until ways of building up extra capacity have been identified “particularly in the area of youth club delivery”.
One of the main aims is to maximise services to the most vulnerable young people and learners.
Tory council leader Mike Jones told local radio: “The services that were given by Connexions were very poor in our view and we were very unhappy as a council with the way they were delivering those services.
“We are now working with the staff to redefine what services we should give, what youth support we should give and ensure we give a better product.”