While the local Councillors have held a public meeting and been quite vocal about the phantom prospect of development in the local greenbelt, they haven’t been talking at all about the fact that Walsall Council is selling off Aldridge Manor Youth Club building and intends to replace the facility – operating for four decades in it’s base – with a vague, unfeasible and daft ‘Pop-up’ travelling youth service.
That’s right, while you were distracted, one of the oldest services for local kids, that many of us attended in our youth has been sold down the river without so much as a whimper from those who are elected and employed to keep us informed.
This is the start of the gradual dismantling of such youth services throughout the borough. It’s an easy cut to make for politicians, knowing the victims are mostly below the age of electoral responsibility.
Walsall Council’s twitter presence and the Aldridge & Beacon Area Manager John Morris have repeatedly been asked questions about the closure on social media in the last few days by a number of residents, including myself and long-time campaigner Linda Mason, without any kind of answer. This is inexcusable. All we’ve had is one vague, daft press release and a very sketchy promise of a public meeting whose date ‘is yet to be set’.
Linda wrote a great piece about this situation on her blog last week. Please do read it.
The undaunted campaigner framed a very specific set of questions which have been totally brushed aside. These are:
- Local Councillors have reportedly said they know nothing about this. Why, when minutes of meetings published on the Authorities own site indicate that they did?
- Why has a closure decision been made before consultation has taken place?
- Has there been an impact assessment for this closure, and where can we find it?
- What is a ‘Pop up’ youth centre, and where has it been piloted and used before?
What’s occurring here is the leading edge of heavy cuts to your local services. Consider why your local councillors might prefer you to be concentrating on other matters while they watch cuts they’ve already nodded through, but kept silent about, enacted.
This situation allows the wily politicians to look like solid local fighters whilst remaining silent as the very heart will be cut from our communities. I have repeatedly warned of the danger of this kind of grandstanding, and that which it may conceal.
The Walsall Council press release is included below. It’s a classic of it’s type; note that there’s no solid commitment, it’s all could and maybe. Note the nod to consultation – ‘They’ve been fine with it’. Oh dear.
Be suspicious and very careful when enjoined to enter the woods and fight mythical wolves. When you return to the village, you may well find it razed to the ground by those who claimed to be acting in your best interests.
Pop-up youth clubs planned for Aldridge
Last updated: 24/05/2013 15:50:25
Pop-up youth clubs are set to be staged as part of a plan to change how young people are helped in Aldridge.
Different venues could be used along with a mobile van as part of the proposals drawn-up by Walsall Council.
Out-reach workers who will go out into the community to work with young people will also continue to operate as the team move from their Aldridge Manor base in Little Aston Road.
Cllr Rachel Andrew, portfolio holder for children’s services in the Walsall Council coalition, said: ‘Youth work has always been about people working with young people on activities to give them a brighter future.
‘We’re making a pledge that this will continue in Aldridge but where it will happen will change.
‘It is important for young people to have access to activities and services and sometimes we focus too much on buildings rather than making sure we’re reaching young people where they are. That means delivering a more flexible service to young people in the places that they’re most comfortable.’
‘We’ve been talking with the young people about what the proposals are and they’ve been fine with it which is good to hear.’
The decision to move from Aldridge Manor was taken as part of a review of property by Walsall Council’s cabinet more than 12 months ago to help save costs.
The details of the plan for Aldridge are being finalised with the building to be put on the market.