Youth centres are latest cuts target

AXED: The Kabins.
AXED: The Kabins.

TWO Dearne youth centres are to close as part of wide-ranging changes which will save Rotherham Council more than £500,000.

Both Kilnhurst Youth Centre and Brampton Kabins are among 11 centres across the borough which will shut permanently.

This will also mean the loss of 29 full-time posts from the town’s youth services.

Staff at Kilnhurst Resource Centre, which is where the village youth centre was based, hit out at the decision this week.

A spokesperson said: “It is a shame because there has been a youth centre in Kilnhurst for 33 years and now it will go.

“It was open for 13 to 19-year-olds and they used to come here to play pool and computer games, it gave them somewhere to go.

“The youth centre hasn’t been going for about a week or so now, and already I saw a group hanging about outside the other day.

“We will also lose out on the rents they paid to the Resource Centre.”

No-one at Brampton Kabins was available for comment, but village councillor Brian Steele said: “The council is having to make decisions we do not want to take because of the cuts imposed by the Con-Dem coalition government.”

The 11 axed centres – half of the borough’s total – will be replaced by five “youth buses” at a cost of £325,000 to offer mobile youth services.

The other nine axed centres are: Aston, Bramley, Catcliffe, Chislett, Dinnington, Harthill, Rotherham International Centre, Rotherham Youth Cafe and Wingfield.

Rotherham Council said youth services would now be focused on “core centres” in 13 areas and a new £3.5m youth centre - funded by the Big Lottery Fund - will open in the town centre by this autumn.

Overall, the changes will mean a £400,000 saving in 2011/12 and a further saving of £134,000 in the following year.

Following cuts to Government funding, Rotherham Council has to find overall savings of £30m in 2011/12, a further £19m in 2012/13 and £14m in 2013/14.

Mahroof Hussain, Cabinet Member for Community Development, Equality and Young People’s Issues, said: “We have taken a thorough look at our services as we know that in some areas we are not providing the type of support and activities that young people want and need.

“These changes mean that with resources getting tighter for services we can replace under-used facilities and instead offer a range of alternatives from larger centres providing a great range of activities as well as new mobile units where workers can get into the heart of communities and react to issues and needs as they arise.

“We are also continuing to work with staff, young people and community groups to see if there are alternative ways of providing services or activities in an area.”