There has been a lot of coverage of the imminent closure of Aldridge Manor Youth Club and the wider youth service throughout Walsall, and its replacement by some not yet thought through system involving derelict properties and converted vans.
There is a public meeting about this set to take place on Thursday 13 June from 6pm to 8pm at Aldridge Manor House, Little Aston Road, Aldridge, WS9 8NJ.
Local councillors in Aldridge had hoped that the closure they signed off in 2011 might pass unnoticed like many other cuts to come, under a haze of outrage wound up over the ‘Walsall 2026’ planning furore. It’s notable that the elected representatives – so keen to lurch to the press when their knees jerk – have been silent about this issue, affecting the youngsters in the community already suffering through unemployment and the woeful performance of institutions provided by the authority to get them into work. (When reading that link, a ‘pre-apprenticeship course’ – on which they’ve parked 183 kids – is a 5 month course with no promise of anything at the end, but gets them off the figures. Walsall Works, the quasi-agency set up to do this, became aggressively defensive and blocked me and others on Twitter for asking uncomfortable questions about their figures. It’s always nice when a local government quango blocks the people who pay for it. Social media my arse.)
There is a coming council by-election for Aldridge Central ward, and it’s worth considering this situation when you vote. Also silent have been the Liberal Democrats – preferring to bang on endlessly about the Chase Line Upgrade (well, they are in bed with the Tories, after all) – and Labour, who have also yet to issue any kind of statement. Uncharacteristically, the blowhard, rentaquote independent Pete Smith has yet to spot the PR opportunity, but perhaps he’s still busy grieving for Thatcher, like so many iconic socialists.
This is a clear opportunity for the opposition to state exactly what they’d do about this, and how they’d support youth services in Walsall, stealing a march and grasping the moral high ground. I live in hope of a policy emerging.
It’s no mystery why local politics is in such a state.
Meanwhile, there has been a great post by Linda Mason which forensically takes this whole thing apart (with some great supporting material in the links), and Walsall Council have issued another press release, which is intriguing by it’s very vagueness (see foot of this post). There’s also an important question here about the mechanics of consultation: Councillors, the release admits, signed this off in 2011. They started consulting the users about this in April 2013. That’s some interesting policy, right there.
Please do read Linda’s piece. They say we get the politicians we deserve. I can’t imagine what Walsall did to deserve this shower…
Walsall Council PR 9073 04/06/2013 [For Immediate Release]
Chance to have your say on youth support in Aldridge
Young people, their families and local residents will be able to have their say on the future of youth work in Aldridge at a public meeting this month.
The meeting will take place on Thursday 13 June from 6pm to 8pm at Aldridge Manor House, Little Aston Road, Aldridge, WS9 8NJ.
Consultation has been taking place with young people and their families since April 2013. This is another opportunity for others to talk through the plans and give their views.
The decision to move from Aldridge Manor House was taken as part of a review of property by Walsall Council’s cabinet more than 12 months ago to help save costs.
The council’s Integrated Young People’s Support Service (IYPSS) will move out of Aldridge Manor House at the end of August 2013.
The meeting will be an opportunity for council staff from property services and IYPSS to clarify issues regarding the decision to close Aldridge Manor House as well as for people to have their say in the development of services for young people in the area from September 2013.
Councillor Rachel Andrew, portfolio holder for children’s services with Walsall Council Coalition said: “I realise that there has been some concern from young people and residents about the closure of Aldridge Manor House Youth Centre.
“I would like to reassure everyone in Aldridge and the surrounding communities that, although the building will be closing, youth work will still be provided to young people in these areas.
“Our approach to youth work in Walsall is much broader, flexible and innovative than the activities held in youth centre buildings. We also carry out detached youth work, mobile provision, project work and we are looking at new ways of reaching young people including the notion of ‘pop up’ youth spaces.
“We are committed to supporting young people in their communities and we will be working with them and their families to continue to develop services that meet their needs.
“I encourage anyone who is interested to come along to the meeting on 13th June to share their views and ideas with us.”