Survival battle for three out of the four youth centres run by Brent Council
PUBLISHED: 06:45 12 October 2015
Brent Council is to hand over the running of all their youth centres to outside organisations after slashing £1million from its budget.
The future of three of the centres hang in the balance with only one being guaranteed survival as part of the controversial plans which are expected to be rubber-stamped on October 19.
Roundwood myplace Centre in Longstone Avenue, Harlesden, will become the borough’s flagship youth service hub with the council hoping to share its day-to-day running with a commissioned provider.
A voluntary sector provider will be sought to take the three remaining youth centres located in Anson Road, Cricklewood, Poplar Grove and London Road, both in Wembley.
The proposals have also sparked job fears for the 22 full-time staff who work in the centres.
Council chiefs whittled their funding for youth service down from £1m to £400,000 as part of a cost-saving exercise to save £54m over the next four years.
The cuts have been blamed on a slash in funding from central government.
Glynis Lee MBE, who ran Stonebridge Adventure Playground in Shakespeare Avenue, Stonebridge, for 40 years before Brent Council plugged its funding, said: “It’s important to know what’s going to come of the tendering process.
“I don’t think you can have big national operators running local community initiatives, it needs to come from the grassroots.
“We have to wait and see who wins it.”
Brent Youth Foundation, a new charitable organisation set up by voluntary and community providers in Brent to build the capacity of youth services, could be eligible to bid for the contract.
Keith Harwood, CEO of Wembley Crime Prevention, an independent charity that supports community based initiatives, said: “It is essential we maintain the current level of youth services provided to the young people of Brent.
“To solely feel we can rely on Roundwood to deliver all of these essential services is creating far too much of a strain and will not hold well with the young people it inevitably shall take effect upon.
He added: “Whilst I respect Brent Council have to make subsidised cutbacks, the removing of our existing youth centres that hold highly beneficial recreational activities for young people and ensure they remain off our streets, in a safe environment and defer them away from crime surely needs to remain a high priority and unaffected.”
Admitting that the only centre guaranteed with survival is Roundwood myplace Centre, Cllr Ruth Moher, Brent Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, added: “We are developing a model to lever in more funding, the way local authorities should go to preserve their service provision.
“We want to keep youth services going to the best of our ability and we hope the partner who comes in with us will actually improve the services.”