COUNCIL critics claim ongoing cuts to the youth service 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 (CWaC) 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 due to 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 Cllr Bob Thompson (Hoole, Chester), said: “It’s the young people that matter and in the absence of an alternative they are being badly let down.”
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 in Chester: “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 going though, working with the staff, to redefine what services we should give, what youth support we should give and ensure we give a better product.”