Labour has asked Wandsworth’s Tories to think again after they put forward proposals to slash almost £5m from
the budgets of Schools’ and Youth services, resulting in a loss of 36 jobs. The cuts will affect the poorest areas of the borough – the Alton and Ashburton estates in Roehampton and Latchmere and Queenstown wards in Battersea.
Youth facilities at the Asburton Estate in Putney will have funding withdrawn and one of two centres for younger children on the Alton Estate will be closed. In Battersea funding for the Providence youth club, Generate, which provides for disabled young people, and The Islamic Youth Group is being reduced and will cease in 2013. The Doddington Estate will be affected with the closure of the Doddington Activity centre.
Delegations of young people, youth workers and community activists spoke passionately at Thursday’s council committee meeting. Young people feared that closure of their clubs would lead to more children hanging around on the streets and an increase in violence. Community workers were concerned that without training and professional support volunteers would be unable to fill the gap left by the reduction in full-time staff.
Amongst school services cut will be support for children looked after by the council, the Home and Hospital Tuition Service, which supports children who cannot attend school because of illness, and the Education Welfare Service which helps improve children’s attendance at school.
Cllr. Andy Gibbons said ‘At a time when there is serious concern over the future of young people in this country is it wrong to lose these valuable services and resources. And there is no denying that these cuts hit, once again, the poorest communities in the Borough.’
Cllr Rex Osborn said ‘We have invited the Tories to join with us in a discussion about how some of these cuts to services can be averted. We want them to look at setting up Cooperative groups and Mutual organisations like those proposed in Lambeth.’