Our Youth Centre has been Dunne in – we must save it and provide the services young people need

A post by Councillor Tracey Huffer, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow East.

In 2014, Philip Dunne gave an awkward lecture to young people at Ludlow Youth Centre. He attempted to explain why he was backing Shropshire Council’s move to convert half of Ludlow Youth Centre into offices. It was a rare intervention by Dunne in Shropshire Council’s politics. It was disastrous for Ludlow’s young people.

Since then, we have struggled. We no longer have the space and privacy in the Youth Centre we need for projects like Ludlow Young Health. Our budgets have been cut. From next April, we will be almost entirely on our own. The only services Shropshire Council is expecting to provide is outreach. Contacting young people on the streets. We already fund Ludlow Young Health locally. We will have to fund the junior youth club locally. We will probably have to pay for the Youth Centre.

We must reverse the trajectory backed by Dunne that has led to a catastrophic collapse of our youth services in Ludlow. We must transfer our Youth Centre into our control.

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Shropshire Council tells local councils to run services and raise their taxes as it abandons its civic role

The clock is ticking. Parish and town councils across Shropshire have been told by Shropshire Council that if they want museums, libraries, buses and street cleaning, they’ll have to take it on themselves. And local councils have just five months to do agree do that, otherwise Shropshire Council will consider scrapping the service from April 2017.

For Ludlow Town Council, this could mean picking up a tab of more than £700,000 – the biggest bill in the county outside of Shrewsbury. Even more than Oswestry.

Council leader, Malcolm Pate suggests in today’s Star that local councils could hike their precepts to pay for services previously run by Shirehall. This is disingenuous. The government has put on record that it will not allow large local tax rises without a costly referendum.

The recent court case over Church Stretton library – which Shropshire Council did not defend – suggests the council doesn’t yet understand how to engage with many communities. I’m not allowed to talk about that after an edict from senior officers gagging all councillors.

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Ludlow Town Council urged to protect Ludlow Youth Centre on Monday (updated)

Update 16 March 2015

I am very pleased to report that Ludlow Town Council decided tonight to apply to register our Youth Centre as an asset of community value. It also decided to make an expression of interest in a potential community asset transfer. Neither of these moves commits the council to any action but it opens up options should Shropshire Council want to sell the Youth Centre or transfer it to another body.

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Ludlow’s unitary councillors are urging Ludlow Town Council to back a recommendation that Ludlow Youth Centre is registered as an asset of community value at its meeting on Monday. Tracey Huffer, Andy Boddington, Richard Huffer and Viv Parry are also asking the town council to register an interest in taking over the building should the need arise.

Continue reading “Ludlow Town Council urged to protect Ludlow Youth Centre on Monday (updated)”

Shropshire councillors ask Ludlow Town council to ‘adopt’ Youth Centre (Updated 28 Nov)

Update 28 November

The town council deferred discussion of our letter to a later meeting while it seeks further information. Shropshire Council told the South Shropshire Journal said “there are no planned changes for Ludlow Youth Centre.” That’s not the same as saying it won’t sell the youth centre if it thinks it can get away with it.

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The four Shropshire councillors for Ludlow and Clee are asking the town council to ‘adopt’ the Youth Centre. The letter below will be considered at Ludlow town council on Monday, 24 November. Continue reading “Shropshire councillors ask Ludlow Town council to ‘adopt’ Youth Centre (Updated 28 Nov)”