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Bid to block youth service cuts fails
ESSEX County Council has been criticised for planning to cut £3million from its youth services while still handing over millions in public money to consultants.
The Tory-controlled council have been told to save £215million in the next two years, with cuts to the budget for youth clubs and out of school activities forming part of its savings plan.
The proposal was criticised by Lib Dem councillors at this week’s full council meeting, as they tried to get them put on hold.
A Lib Dem motion also proposed setting aside £5million in a special budget, just for youth services.
Lib Dem county councillor David Kendall told the meeting: “There have been 5,117 representations to the council, which shows just how important an issue this is to our residents.
“We want to minimise the devastating impact this will have on communities around Essex.
“These cuts will affect the mobile youth bus and youth workers on the ground.
“At the same time, the council is spending more than £10million a year on temporary staff and more than £5million on consultants.”
Fellow Lib Dem Theresa Higgins said: “There are a lot of dedicated staff who are highly skilled to deal with young people and also to train volunteers.
“It’s all very well having volunteers leading the service, but they need support with paperwork, training and other issues.
However Ray Gooding, Tory councillor responsible for young people, said the council was still awaiting the results of consultations on the cuts.
He said: “Young people have been the most supportive and most understanding in this whole process. They’ve come up with some really interesting proposals.
“We need to make significant savings, but within that, it’s about redesigning the service.
“In many ways, this is premature, the decision hasn’t been made. When it’s presented, we can deal with it then.”
The motion was backed by all 32 opposition councillors but voted down by the majority Tory group.
County Hall spends more on temps
THE amount the council has spent on temporary staff has increased in the past year according to figures obtained by the Lib Dem group.
The amount being given to outside consultants, while reducing, was still more than £7million last year.
In 2010-11 County Hall spent £11.3million on temps.
This reduced to £9.8million, the following year, but increased again last year, to £10.6million.
In the first six months of the current year alone, it has spent £7.9 million.
Spending on consultants was £24.4million in 2010-11. In 2011-12 it was £16.4million and last year, £7.4million. In the six months to October the council gave consultants £2.4million.
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