Updated: Wednesday, 3rd June 2020 @ 3:06pm

Anger in Bury as youth centres face closure

Anger in Bury as youth centres face closure

By Joe Dalton

Bury youngsters are outraged after the council announced plans to cut £900,000 from the youth service budget next month.

The extensive cuts will help Bury Council meet its targeted saving of £12m but may lead to the closure of several local authority funded youth centres.

There are currently five youth centres in Bury and it is thought that only the New Kershaw Centre will retain its youth provision.

Connor Gowers, 18, is a member of the organisation Save Our Service which has been protesting against the cuts.

He said: “The cuts would mean I could no longer access the youth service as it stands.

“I feel that the youth centres are valuable community assets as they are available to many groups of young people.

“Realistically, many people won’t be able to travel to the New Kershaw Centre when the others close as it takes multiple bus journeys across Bury.”

The service provides invaluable opportunities for young people, involving them in social and educational activities ranging from youth clubs to sports coaching and arts classes.

Andy Preston, 18, has experienced firsthand the benefits of an active youth service in the local community as it helped him to follow his passion for music.

He said: “They've helped a large amount of Bury singers, rappers and bands progress and gave them opportunities they wouldn't have had otherwise.

“The youth music scene is really going to suffer the consequence of the youth service vanishing, as there will be even fewer chances to perform live than there already was!”

The youth service also helps to coordinate the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme in Bury and a Facebook petition has already been initiated hoping to ensure this support isn’t lost.

The centres play a vital role in engaging young people with decisions affecting their own community through assisting the Area Youth Action Group and Youth Cabinet.

Jamie Walker, Youth MP for Bury, fears the impending cuts could disengage young people with politics in addition to depriving them of opportunities.

He said: “It seems unfair that youth workers will still be available to help a minority of vulnerable groups such as drug-users whilst normal young people in the area are being forced to lose out on activity groups, classes and the Youth Action Group.

“I believe they (Bury Council) aren’t going to be funding the Youth MP to attend the National Youth Parliament this year either so we won’t get our voice heard there.”

Cllr Tim Pickstone, who leads the Liberal Democrats in Bury, is hopeful that the borough’s strong tradition of voluntary youth provision will help to soften the blow.

Nevertheless, he admitted: "I'm worried that this cut has come very quickly, and it’s not going to give much time for alternative services to develop".

Bury North MP, David Nuttall, has received concerns from a number of his young constituents regarding the youth service cuts.

He said: “We simply cannot carry on spending money we do not have. I think it is right that locally elected politicians decide on how to spend money locally and different councils will reach different conclusions.”