Agenda item - Public Involvement
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To consider the following matters raised by members of the public:
(a) Petitions: to receive any petitions presented to the full council or at the meeting itself;
(b) Written Questions: to receive any questions submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 30 December 2017;
(c) Deputations: to receive any deputations submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 30 December 2017.
59.1 There were none
59b Written Questions
(i) Youth Service – Ethan Carney
59.2 Ethan Carney put the following question:
Why would you and why do you want to make kids unhappy by closing these clubs?
59.3 The Chair provided the following response:
Your question is one of several today relating to the Administration’s proposal to cut some in-house youth services.
We are not motivated to cutting services to youths, but we do have to set a legal budget in February which means we have to balance the books and unfortunately that has resulted in a proposal to cut the budget for youth services.
59.4 Ethan Carney put the following supplementary question:
What about families who have no money to support their children or give them the entertainment they need?
59.5 The Chair provided the following response:
It is really regrettable that we are making the proposed cuts, but as a council we will do everything we can to support families in need in the city.
(ii) Youth Trust – Amy Ramsay
59.6 Amy Ramsay put the following question:
Following the Committee’s decision to develop a Youth Trust model, young people from across the city have been exploring the possibility of a Youth trust to manage and commission youth services, including meeting other Youth trusts across the county. The group concluded that a trust model involving Young People would be a good idea because: Young People would have a say at citywide level. Services would be better coordinated. Strategic decision-making would be improved. Funding decisions would be more accountable and transparent.
What is this Committee’s current view on a Youth Trust model and what future actions will be taken?
59.7The Chair provided the following response:
I agree that having a Youth Trust for the city would be a good development. Other authorities do have trusts and when we came into power in May 2015 we hoped to do something similar, but unfortunately due to pressure with both the budget and time that hasn’t happened. However, that’s not to say that the Community and Voluntary Sector can’t come together and create a trust with the Council playing some kind of role. We did secure some Cabinet Office money to look at different models, but we’re at the stage now where a trust hasn’t been set up and no agreement has been reached by the various local charities on exactly what the model should be.
59.8Amy Ramsay put the following supplementary question:
Would Council members be willing to meet with young people and those working to build this trust to move this matter forward? I believe that £30k was granted.
59.9The Chair provided the following response:
We would welcome any thoughts and ideas on how we can ensure that young people are supported going forward.
(iii) Youth Clubs – Kate Barker
59.10 Kate Barker submitted the following question, which was asked at the meeting by Jack Stanford:
Youth clubs provide a safe community space for young people. For many youngsters it is the only place in their area they can go without risk of being harmed mentally and physically. If youth clubs are closed then where can young people go to benefit from and socialise in a safe open access environment?
59.11The Chair provided the following response:
You are right about the role Youth Clubs play and I understand there will still be youth club provision across the city as it’s not just the Council who are funders, but others such as charities and third sector bodies. What is incumbent on us as a council is to work with young people to think how we can shape the pattern of provision in the future and, if there are any gaps, to look at how we might meet that challenge not necessarily through Council coffers but through other areas of funding.
59.12Jack Stanford put the following supplementary question:
By cutting youth service provision you are targeting some of the most vulnerable young people in the city and how can you, as our elected representatives, reconcile that with your duty to protect those people.
59.13 The Chair provided the following response:
You are right and we do have a statutory duty to support the most vulnerable people in the city. The current proposal is to cut some open-access youth work and in-house non-statutory youth work. What we are not proposing to cut is some of the targeted service for vulnerable young people. For example, there is an extended Adolescent Service which will continue to have funding over £100k per annum, the Youth Offending Service with funding of £750k per annum and the Youth Employability Service with funding of £500k per annum, together with support for specialised services such as R U OK, and work with Downside School through the YMCA. Therefore any perception that we are cutting all youth services is wrong, but we are having to make some very difficult decisions.
(iv) Youth Clubs – Helen Bartlett
59.14 Helen Bartlett submitted the following question, which was asked at the meeting by Boudicca Pepper:
Youth clubs are places that young people can go for free, get a meal and take part in activities that they would not be able to otherwise. Do you think that the plans to cut youth work are unfair because they impact on young people who are less likely to have these opportunities otherwise?
59.15The Chair provided the following response:
These are not proposals that we are putting forward that we want to make, and if we weren’t faced with such severe cuts from central government we wouldn’t be suggesting them. I would refer you to my previous answers, and we will continue to talk to you, your representatives and the community and voluntary sector to see what we can do between now and February when the Budget Council is held.
59.16Boudicca Pepper put the following supplementary question:
The Labour manifesto promised to eliminate youth unemployment. The Youth Employability Services for work-ready young people will avoid cuts, but it is only through youth services such as those being cut, that many people actually become work ready. How can you reconcile the effect of these cuts on the readiness of young people for work, with your pledge to cut youth unemployment?
59.17 The Chair provided the following response:
I am glad you mentioned our pledge to cut youth unemployment in our local party manifesto. Youth unemployment has been coming down consistently over the last two years. We have had a big push via the Employer Skills Taskforce to raise the awareness and status of apprenticeships in the city and am delighted that apprenticeships are up by 20%. There are no plans in the budget proposals to either cut the Youth Employment Service or to change the programme around the Employer Pledge, which is about galvanising the business community to step up to the challenge of giving young people a chance.
(v) Youth Clubs – Adam Muirhead
59.18 Adam Muirhead submitted the following question, which was asked at the meeting by Bette Davis:
“Isn’t supporting a youth club to stay open socially, ethically and fiscally better than leaving young people to commit crime on the streets?”
59.19The Chair provided the following response:
You touch on the issue of investing in our public services for the long term, and that is something we want to do. One of the difficult choices that politicians have to make when looking at the size of the budget gap, which is £2m, is the issue of where you place your investment. I don’t want to give the impression that we are prioritising one group over another, but the fact that this Council has been able to continue to invest in Early Years and keeping the nurseries in public ownership is something we’re proud of in the administration. I appreciate that doesn’t fully answer your question about 14 year olds who need a place at a youth centre, but I would refer you back to the answers I gave earlier on that point.
59.20Bette Davis put the following supplementary question:
Don’t you think these cuts are going to end up costing the Council more money in the long run?
59.21 The Chair provided the following response:
You touch on the issue of how we as a society invest in our future, our young people, infrastructure, public and social services etc but we do have to work within the parameters set by Central Government. I think that potentially these cuts are short sighted, in the sense that the evidence is there that there’s a long term pay back on these things, but I would refer you to the answers I gave earlier about the challenges and prioritisation that we have to go through.
(vi) Youth Clubs – Maddie Davidson
59.22 Maddie Davidson put the following question:
“If I have problems at home, who will I talk to, if there aren't youth worker?”
59.23The Chair provided the following response:
Schools have some responsibility to support you in terms of pastoral care, and I would hope that you felt that there was someone at your school you could talk to. We will continue to provide services such as the youth Employability Scheme, RU-OK?, and to work with schools to support young people,
59.24Maddie Davidson put the following supplementary question:
Do you accept young people will feel safer talking to someone they know?
59.25 The Chair provided the following response:
Absolutely, and I would hope that support structures were available in all schools to allow young people to do that. Also, parents, carers and peer groups should also be able to provide that safe environment.
The Chair asked Maddie if there were any specific areas where she felt someone may need to talk to someone, and she cited examples of domestic violence or problems at school. The Chair said that the commitment of the Council was to keep all children safe, and that was one reason why the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub was set up. Those working at the Hub included Outreach Advisers who would support young people.
(vii) Youth Service – Mitchie Alexander
59.26 Mitchie Alexander put the following question:
“I would like to ask the Councillors who sit on this Committee whether they feel that it will be just and right and fair to vote for this forth-coming budget when they know how devastating the cuts to the Youth Services will be? I've heard it stated that if it wasn't Youth Services cut then it would be one of the other 700 services cut instead. But the Youth in our city think that Youth Services are far more important than the cutting of grass verges. I do too and so I beg you NOT to cut the Youth Services!”
59.27The Chair provided the following response:
All of the 700 services you refer to are all vital public services, and we wouldn’t want to say one service was better than another. To give you a sense of the financial challenges we face, even if you took all the Council Tax and Business Rates revenue, which were two important sources of income, the cost of social care in the city would still not be covered.
59.28Mitchie Alexander put the following supplementary question:
As a progressive city, isn’t it time we stood up to the Tory Government and fought against these cuts. We all know how important youth services are and that by cutting these services it would cost the city far more in the long run. It is time to be bold and time to stand up and fight. My question is to the Labour Councillors – how far does the knife have to cut before you stop sharpening the blade?
59.29 The Chair provided the following response:
That is a rather political question and I’ll give you a political answer. There is not a single colleague who thinks ‘what can we cut now’. We have all come into the Labour party and into public life to support our communities and young people. For me personally, as someone who came to the city as a foster child and hove now made this my home, it pains me deeply to see the kind of challenges we face as a Labour Administration. However, we were elected by the residents to set a legal budget, and if we don’t we area abdicating our responsibility. I can assure you that this is not about the Labour Administration taking some pleasure in implementing Central Government cuts.
59.30 There were none.