Keyed up over online cuts
COUNCIL plans for cut-backs on funding for a charity which provides computer training for the vulnerable inspired a protest for next month. Five UK Online centres in Kilburn now face an uncertain future following news that Camden Council plans a cut of �
COUNCIL plans for cut-backs on funding for a charity which provides computer training for the vulnerable inspired a protest for next month.
Five UK Online centres in Kilburn now face an uncertain future following news that Camden Council plans a cut of �170,000 from the �206,000 budget.
Users, administrators and campaigners will stage a protest at Camden Town Hall next month, lobbying against a decision they say could mean one or more of the 16 centres in Camden will close.
But the council said the move was necessitated by Government cutbacks. Phil Oman, a resident of the Ainsworth Estate who uses the UK Online services at the South Hampstead Education and Lifelong Learning centre, in Boundary Road, said he was 'angry' about the cuts.
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He said: "The Government is talking about everybody being included in information technology and in Camden we're being cut.
"There are so many people who have benefited from the facilities, who can now communicate and now check up on information when they couldn't before."
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Txus Santacara, who runs the UK Online Centre at Latin American House in Kingsgate Place, said: "It doesn't make any sense and it would be a disaster if this goes ahead.
"We're devastated. So much effort was put into this and the benefits are just starting to show now. To waste that will let so many people down.
"We have a lot of old people getting in touch with the new technology. We have people who are looking for jobs. Now the future is uncertain."
Mike Katz, who is standing as a Labour candidate in Kilburn at the next local elections, said: "It will be the most disadvantaged, the elderly, people without jobs and poorer children who will be hit the worst - those who either don't have internet access at home or need help getting online.
"This fantastic service doesn't cost a lot - with more than �100 million in reserves, Camden should be able to keep these centres going - or find the savings elsewhere."
A Camden Council spokesman said most used and cost effective centres would not be affected.
He said: "While we understand what a valuable and appreciated service it is, now that the government and Learning and Skills Council funding has reduced, it is impossible for the council to manage the service funding."
"We are fully aware of how important this service is to many of our residents and we are currently reviewing how we can minimise the impact of its partial withdrawal.