The Staffordshire Labour Group’s call in of the Conservative Cabinet decision to cut funding to Staffordshire CABs by £439,000 has resulted in a rethink. Cabinet member Councillor Alan White agreed at yesterday’s Corporate Review Committee to reconsider his decision.
The proposed cuts in funding would have resulted in many smaller bureaux closing and a much reduced service in other bureaux which provide free, confidential and quality marked advice on a wide range of issues including debt, benefits and consumer information.
Leading the call in on behalf of the Labour Group, Councillor Shree Peaple said:
“The CABs provide real value for money. In the first six months of the year, for an investment of less than 59 pence per resident per year the financial return was £14.7 million, on average £17 per resident. That is in addition to helping residents deal with over £11 million worth of debt. That benefits not only local families but also local shops and businesses. I am delighted that we have won a reprieve for Staffordshire CABs but they are not out of the woods yet as there are still hard decisions to be made”
Kyle Robinson , Labour County Council Candidate for Talke and Red Street said:
“The CAB offers expert advice to help people tackle their debt problems. Many residents, young and old in Butt Lane, Talke Pits and Chesterton Red Street access CAB services in a time of need. People are really struggling to make ends meet and to take away this vital service would be another blow for the local community. People assume that only people on benefits use CAB services, but this is simply not true. A large proportion of people who use the service are in work. I am also aware that many disabled people turn to the CAB for support, especially when seeking work. The County Council must think again and ensure that the most vulnerable people in our community get the support they need and deserve. You never know when you might need to access this service yourself.”
Councillor Sue Woodward, Leader of the Labour Group said,
“With the petition in favour of saving our CABs already running at over 11,500, this reflects the real value Staffordshire residents put on these services. We must now find a fairer and more positive solution. I am pleased that our call in was so successful.”
Please sign the petition if you haven’t already: https://www.change.org/p/staffordshire-county-council-help-protect-local-citizens-advice-services-across-staffordshire
Labour councillors have today launched a campaign to save Kidsgrove Fire Station. Staffordshire Fire Authority has proposed to cut emergency response capabilities from the Kidsgrove Station. These plans have been revealed despite the huge increase in housing developments across the area. Residents are now fearing the worst and believe Kidsgrove needs it’s own dedicated Fire Station. Some of the proposals mean that services could be stretched to the limit, sharing stations and staff with Cheshire.
This news has also come about following the Fire Authority’s decision to increase the Fire Service’s share of Council Tax by 1.95%. A consultation day will be held on Wednesday 25th March, Kidsgrove Town Hall at 6pm.
Councillor Kyle Robinson said: “At a time when housing developments are on a massive increase across the Butt Lane area, I consider it is more important than ever to have our own operational Fire Station in the locality. I am not convinced that our community will remain safe from serious incidents following the removal of emergency response capabilities and I would urge Staffordshire Fire Authority to think again. I hope the consultation will be a genuine exercise and not a tick box scenario to close down yet another vital public service in Kidsgrove. Put public safety before cuts.”
Town Councillor, Sylvia Dymond said: “It would be a shocking state of affairs if this station closed permanently. The money spent to build these facilities cannot be returned following any closures. When budgets are tight and community facilities are closing all across Staffordshire, we need to protect what we already have for local people. I for one will not be letting this station close or see its services reduce without a fight.”
Local resident Julie Jukes said: “I am outraged that the managers of the fire service would even consider cutting back something as essential as this. My neighbours are very worried and I will be backing this campaign.”
This year, Tory controlled Staffordshire County Council voted to close all youth centres with the blessing of UKIP. Every single youth club in Staffordshire and Kidsgrove will close on the 31st December. This means that all youth provision will end, despite 16000 people signing a petition against the decimation of these much needed services. The youth service also has the responsibility of co-ordinating youth forums, youth councils and the UK youth parliament scheme. I was once a UK youth parliament candidate at 16 and the experience was invaluable.
At a meeting of the Staffordshire Advisory Board, Councillors Mark Sutton and Mike Lawrence, along with Commissioner Sharon Moore, put forward plans to scrap formal youth councils in favour of an entirely online model. This is apparently another attempt to further slash costs, but modernise services. I do love the ‘modernise services’ line, its unbelievably false!
My personal belief is that this is actually a way of silencing young people out of democracy. As we all know, young people have been very vocal about the youth service shut down. Who can blame them? The service has served our communities on all fronts for a very long time and in some cases transformed young lives. What particularly worries me is that progress we have made in recent years involving young people is now going to hit a brick wall. Young people already feel apathetic about local government and politics, so what does this say to them. The County Council should think again, because a lot of the young people involved in these youth forums and councils are usually the leaders of tomorrow. An online service will be completely inadequate and I am not comfortable with the idea of all human interaction done through a computer. We will also have a national youth parliament with no representation from Staffordshire. At a time when we should be on the national stage promoting our County, we are shutting ourselves out.
Without the formal support of the County Council, communities will find it very difficult to put in place their own youth parliaments. Luckily, Kidsgrove already has its own youth parliament and the organisation makes a positive difference in the locality. These things don’t get set up over night and the co-ordinators need to be dedicated to them or they just don’t work. I remain concerned that many local villages and towns in Staffordshire simply wont have the resources to set these organisations up. Only to leave young people without a voice in a fast changing world.
I will look forward to working with young people in the near future to see what we can do to deflect the damage caused by selfish politicians.