On Wednesday night I watched with increasing despair as the Conservative Cabinet voted through the budget they’ll put to B&NES Council next week.
They tried to trumpet their fiscal austerity and the balanced budget, but that budget was built on the backs of massive cuts to services that residents rely on in a slash and burn approach that will hurt Bath and North East Somerset for generations.
I was especially angry to see them cut children’s and youth services and I’m proud that the Lib Dems are taking a stand on that particular issue. You can sign the petition against those cuts here.
Last month I attended Paulton Parish Council and at that meeting we were told about the Youth Connect service and what impact it has in our village. The Youth Connect service is one of the youth services that the Cabinet are dispensing with.
Youth Connect helps young people mainly 14-19 years old from the 4 youth hubs (Southside in Twerton, Riverside on London Road, Peasedown St John and Radstock) as well as operating a mobile hub bus. This bus visits Paulton on a regular basis, working with young people in the village.
The Youth Connect website on the B&NES website has more detail on what they offer from “positive activities and advice through to individual support for those who need it the most for moving on into adulthood and work or training”. It also has examples of where they have helped people with complex issues get back into work or onto college courses.
The staff have got to know the young people in Paulton, working alongside them to educate about drugs and alcohol and reduce vandalism. It’s a personal touch that works, keeping minor problems from becoming serious by using relationships built up over time.
Youth Connect have been told their Council funding expires on 30th August and they should be prepared to close. From that day, the experience and relationships the staff have built up will be lost, and, if we are not careful, the young people they help could be lost too.