A POSSIBLE reduction in the opening hours of the region’s youth clubs has been slammed by a community leader.
Cllr Christine Jones, of Sealand ward on Flintshire Council, has spoken of her concerns about the future of four Flintshire-funded youth centres after a projected saving of more than £60,000 was identified in the authority’s budget for next year.
Her fears for the county’s young people are compounded by other plans to close five libraries and to start charging parents for music tuition in schools as the authority seeks to overcome budget shortfalls.
Cllr Jones told the Leader: “We should be doing all we can to try to help our young people to give them as good a start as possible in life, but instead they are continually losing out.
“I appreciate the county has to make savings but they are targeting the wrong things.
“Youth clubs play an important role in the local community and are a very constructive way for youngsters to spend their time.”
The issues regarding changes to youth centres became public at a meeting of Flintshire’s lifelong learning overview and scrutiny committee where councillors noticed the projected savings of £66,000 for each of the next three years from a “rationalisation of youth and community premises” in the proposed budget.
After requests from members, officers revealed the youth centres earmarked for changes are in Sealand, Connah’s Quay, Flint and Saltney.
The proposal is understood to be for a reduction of opening nights each week from three to two, although in Sealand this is already the case owing to the personal circumstances of leaders.
Cllr Jones added: “I do not believe there will be any further reduction in hours at Sealand, but I am unhappy with the principles.”
Connah’s Quay Central councillor Aaron Shotton also criticised the motion, which would see the hours cut again at the youth centre at Connah’s Quay High School.
He said: “There has already been a reduction from four nights to three and now it looks like going down to two.
“We have been given no explanation about this, I see it as an avoidable cut to a critical service.”
Flintshire Council said its youth service is currently being reviewed as part of the authority’s wider organisational redesign programme.
Rob Edwards, Flintshire’s county youth and community officer, said: “A new service delivery plan will be agreed, which will determine specific areas for efficiencies and investment.
“Until the full details of a new service delivery plan are agreed, it would be premature to focus on isolated proposals.
“The new service plan will be the subject of a full consultation process in due course.”