4 December 2011

Council Listens To Calls From Local Councillor And MSP As Under-Threat Youth Service Given Reprieve

An under-threat youth service which helps support troubled youngsters has been given a reprieve thanks to lobbying from young people and parents with the support of their MSP and councillors.

Youth workers based at Peterhead’s Barclay Park Pavilion and Peterhead Academy had been threatened with redundancy at the start of the Christmas holidays. Now, thanks to a local campaign, Aberdeenshire Council has responded to local MSP Stewart Stevenson and Peterhead South councillor Stephen Smith saying that the matter will be reviewed and the posts will remain in place until the end of the school year in summer 2012.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I was approached by several parents of young people who had benefitted immensely from the service provided by the youth workers in Peterhead. They were full of praise for the efforts made by the youth workers and it is no exaggeration to say that the lives of the young people involved have been completely turned around by the support they have received from the service.

“It was therefore critical that the service did not fold in the week before Christmas due to financial issues. It would be unfair to the council to say this was a result of cuts because, as far as I am led to believe, the funding was not being cut from the education budget but merely moved to another heading.

“I’m pleased that Aberdeenshire Council has responded positively to calls from the community for a rethink. At the end of the day, a service like this actually save the public purse more money than it costs as a result of lives turned around and people diverted from other activities which may lead them to place a burden on the police and criminal justice service, which was a very strong point made by the young people themselves.”

Peterhead South & Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith added:

“I met with young people who use the service and their parents recently and it quickly became clear to me that there is a huge amount of work carried out by the Youth Workers whose positions are under threat which is greatly valued.

“I made the case very strongly to senior education officials at the council that there needed to be a rethink because the potential consequences of not having this kind of youth work going on in the community are likely to be more expensive.

“I’m therefore delighted by the assurance given to me by the Director of Education to extend the funding for this service at least until the 2012 summer holidays and to look at how we might have a more sustainable arrangement in future.”

Peterhead North & Rattray SNP councillor Fiona McRae commented:

“I know there was a lot of concern among parents who had seen the value of this service in helping their children and they feared what the loss of this service might do to future generations, so this is very welcome news.”

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