Late bid to save service

By Ian Dipple Friday 21 December 2012 Updated: 21/12 10:09

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Buy photos » Darren Farmer, Coun Debbie Taylor, Margaret Groves, Coun Rebecca Blake and Rauf Shah have made a last minute plea for the county council to allow RYCE to take on Redditch Youth House on a short-term basis. Picture by Ian Dipple (s).

A LAST ditch appeal has been made by campaigners battling to save Redditch Youth House for county council officials to honour the Government’s commitment to localism.

The Ipsley Street centre is set to shut its doors on December 31 as part of £1.4million of cuts by Worcestershire County Council to its youth services budget.

But Redditch Youth and Community Enterprise (RYCE) want to take on the running of the building between January and March using the Government backed Meanwhile Lease, while they put together the funding and a business case to buy the property. Campaigners fear if the centre is allowed to close even for a short-period it will make it harder to reattract young people and users.

But as the Standard reported last week the council is refusing to allow them to take on the building short-term because of health and safety issues, something which RYCE says they have the expertise to deal with.

Central Ward Coun Debbie Taylor, who represents the area the youth house is in, said the refusal flied in the face of the Government’s localism policy while Coun Rebecca Blake added the Conservative run council’s own Act Local in Worcestershire document committed it to working with communities to provide local services for local people.

“The users of Youth House and the wider community need Worcestershire County Council to ‘walk the talk’ and demonstrate their documents are not empty words or only apply to other parts of the county and not Redditch.”

Smallwood resident Madge Tillsley MBE helped run a youth club out of the building for 15 years in the 1970s and 1980s and also appealed for the council to reconsider, as well as for businesses to donate to the project.

“We had to do it without any help and put our hands in our own pocket. The council needs to think about the people they are serving and young people desperately need this.”

But Coun David Thain, responsible for transformation and change on the council, said they could not change their stance.

“I understand the point about localism but the building has serious issues. They have already got three months to raise the money and we have committed to selling it to them as a priority as long as they meet the market value,” he said.

“With health and safety and other issues we can’t keep it open for a gap of three months but we will do all we can to ensure it is secure, does not get vandalised and no further deterioration takes place.”

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