Cuts to youth services branded ‘extraordinarily depressing’

JPCT 24-04-12 Roffey Youth Centre S12170032a -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT 24-04-12 Roffey Youth Centre S12170032a -photo by Steve Cobb

A PURPOSE-built youth club in North Horsham will no longer house a youth club.

The Roffey venue, complete with pool table, a music studio and volunteers offering advice, closed its doors to youth club members just before Easter due to a lack of funding.

It is one of the latest victims of West Sussex County Council’s cuts to youth services.

Horsham Riverside’s Morwen Millson, Lib Dem group leader for WSCC and North Horsham County Local Committee member, said: “I think that West Sussex is making these cuts too quickly. I don’t think we have taken enough notice on the impact when there’s so many problems for young people in terms of employment and the financial strains of their families.

“The county council is going to be offering nothing for any young people other than those with greater needs, and I think that’s awful. It’s extraordinarily depressing.”

Roger Wilton, chairman of the Roffey Youth Club Management Committee, who is also chairman of North Horsham Parish Council, told the County Times he is ‘particularly piqued by the situation’. He said: “The youngsters in Roffey have a purpose built youth club that they can’t access.

“This year grants have been withdrawn all together. And now as a result all the youth services are retrenching back to Hurst Road [Horsham].”

The news comes just days after concerned Roffey residents, business owners and councillors gathered to discuss with police a rise in anti-social behaviour.

“I don’t think there’s a link between the vandalism and the youth,” he continued. “The youngsters that are hanging about are an older group that probably wouldn’t be involved in the youth club, but that’s an assumption, now they don’t have the option to even get involved if they wanted to go.”

He added: “I’m sad to see a waste of a local facility, I don’t think it’s fair, what did the people of Roffey do wrong?”

However, the county council say ‘the Youth Support and Development service will continue to provide services county-wide but with a focus on early intervention, prevention, targeted and specialist services’.

Carl Burton, of the council’s youth services department, told the County Times: “Owing to the reductions in the budget for the Youth Support and Development Service, and being keen to encourage communities to run their own provision, proposals have been accepted to reduce the number of youth facilities under the direct control of the county council.

“Roffey Youth Centre currently offers a comprehensive children and family service and it is the intention this continues.”

He stressed that youth provision is still being offered from the centre such as ‘a very vibrant and popular Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme open to all young people’.

But stated that ‘there are a number of centres which are proposed to be transferred to new arrangements within the Horsham district’.

“Negotiations are currently taking place with a number of key stakeholders with the aim of transferring arrangements which include the continuation of services for young people in some form or other.”