Not distracted at all

Manor House, Aldridge

Aldridge Manor: from the Flickr photo stream of PBBryars.

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…

Untitled 4

Another fine piece from Linda Mason, who’s been campaigning over the Manor for a few years now. Click on the screenshot to read her blog post.

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.”

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21 Responses to Not distracted at all

  1. ianroboian says:

    good to see Aldridge have youth workers, not far away we do not and I wonder how many other areas do ?

    I have no information on this but if closing this service down leads to more workers on Pheasey, Streetly, Pelsall then I would be minded to support it.

    I would totally agree with Linda and others that the information is so lacking we have nothing to judge this on and make an informed decision.

    • Nice bit of anti-Aldridge antagonism there. You do realise this is where the borough service is based?
      How likely is it you think you’ll get a better service?

      • ianrobo says:

        I have no idea as we hardly get a service anyway.

        if the service is based there what is the problem with shutting a place, selling it and maybe moving into smaller cheaper offices ?

        Does it matter if the service is based in Aldridge or the civic centre ?

        Or is it that it provides facilities there that only a small % of the borough can access ?

        You tell me because the information on the Council website tells us nothing

        • Ian

          This will affect all fixed point youth clubs, which will be reaced by mobile ‘pop up’ services. This will result in a poorer service for all, including the kids in Pheasey.

          Aldridge serves a very wide area – kids travel there from Browhills, Walsall and Pelsall.

          Odd to see you effectively taking a Tory position here.

          We don’t know the result of this experiment, and it can’t be restored when broken.

          Wards need to stick together on this. Considering the derision for ‘pop up’ services amongst other Labour folk I find your position curious.


          • ianrobo says:

            I am taking no position because the details are not there. How many of the 20 wards have fixed youth clubs ?

            As Linda asked many questions about costs and then you measure benefits against it. If this can result in a better service for more people I would sign up for it. If it results in a worse service for many people I can not.

            Walsall Council have to make cost savings and whether Tory, Labour or even bloody UKIP in charge those cuts have to be made, there is no choice on it unless you think illegal budgets should be set ?

            What I think has happened so far is that Walsall council using various methods have shielded the worse of the cuts from people, from now on you will see the damage that is being wrecked in Birmingham by the same % cuts.

            That will be painful not only for kids of Aldridge and surrounding areas but all of us.

    • stymaster says:

      Do you really think that cuts at Aldridge will result in improvements elswhere in the borough? If so, I’ll have what you’re drinking. Classic political bullshit and spin- trying to convince us this is all for the best, all wrapped up in the “we must cut services” mantra of the moment.

      • ianrobo says:

        well the fact is the govt have massively cut the budgets of met councils whilst leaving the Shires untouched. The facts are that the council have to make cuts or set an illegal budget.

        Now I want to see the facts on the case as regarding the cash, what has to be spent etc. A solution is not to stand there and not this cut or another one because they have to fall somewhere.

        I would never have cut the budgets like this but the choice was already made by the voters in 2010.

        • But like the Murphy’s, you’re not bitter…
          Of course, Tory wards and the the east-west split.


          • ianrobo says:

            regardless of who represents the wards the decisions have to be made. I mean these are Tory councillors making decisions in their own wards.

            This is all about the cash and no matter who is in charge would have to make the decisions on money or otherwise what would you do ?

            • Oh, there’s lots that could be cut – daft investment projects like the Giggleport, Chief Exec and senior Councillor allowances (funny, your boys abstained on that), lord knows what Serco are costing us right now. The ‘Working Smarter’ bollocks. Perhaps if they just stopped dropping howlers like the lost receipts, failed street lighting deal and other guff we might fare better.

              The idea that flogging an already owned building in a depressed market and operating youth services from the back of a transit will be cheaper – but while retaining the same staff – is daft, frankly.

              Cutting youth services will cost us all in the long run. But you are illustrating the futility of voting in local elections quite well.

              The tribalism and cross-ward animosity in Walsall has always hampered it. I see it continues, as ever.


              • ianrobo says:

                yes it will because Walsall is not a unified borough, parts see themselves as Wolverhampton, parts as Birmingham, parts as Sutton Coldfield etc. However I agree money can be saved elsewhere, I would prefer it to be and I would call for savings in senior officers as Labour also proposed.

                I would call for savings in how IT is used, dump Microsoft etc.

                I would call for reduction in use and smater use of cars and transport


                However the decision will not be made by other than Tories and what are the actual details of this and given the parcel of money allocated are the plans the best possible or not ?

  2. ianrobo says:

    Interesting piece but this has to be looked at a wider aspect.

    Linda is spot in the tone of her piece, we do not have the information to base a judgement on. However here on Pheasey we have no permanent youth service, so over the years the kids of Aldridge have been very lucky. IF (and this is a big IF) results in other areas like Pheasey receiving more service and Aldridge receives less then that is better IMHO.

    We do not have the information to make these judgements, for example how much is spent per head on youth services per ward ?

  3. ianrobo says:

    bloody comment came through twice …

  4. paul says:

    HI I think what happens here will affect the rest of Walsall, who in effect will probably lose their youth clubs in the same way at a later date. On the subject of Pheasey. they had a fantastic youth service at the Collingwood centre, Barr Beacon school another club on Chapel Lane at one point.
    I guess the provision was pulled there at some point and no one challenged it in the community. Hence Pheasey lost it.
    This is a historic building within Aldridge, that should be treasured by the council and for our local people. ( I dread to think what kind of eyesore development will be built on the back of it when it is sold.) It is a fantastic facility for young kids around here that could be filled every night if the council was innovative and used volunteers more. There are lots of unused rooms there that could be rented out to businesses etc to help fund any costs to supplement the youth centre…. But no I’m sure it will be sold off (Just like the old Red house school and Bay tree House sites) to supplement the cash they have thrown at other projects like the 8 million on the Old square shopping centre. I hope the people of Aldridge come out in force to oppose this closure and to fight to keep it open or to provide an alternative base for them. I used to be a youth worker and yes some youth work in the community can be good, but only really alongside a structured base and a permanent centre to get them off the streets and in to doing something more constructive…I also hope people are taking heed of which councillors are keeping silent on this issue and at the next election..

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