Tag: youth centre

Shropshire Council moves to shut down Ludlow Youth Centre by restricting youth club to three people

In this article, Tracey Huffer writes about the growing threat to Ludlow Youth Centre. That threat began in 2014, when Philip Dunne MP and the then portfolio holder for young people, Gwilym Butler, visited a youth club session to brief the youngsters about the decision to convert half the building into offices. Rarely have I seen two politicians so out of their comfort zone and that evening reduced the political stature of both men.   But that was the start of Shropshire Council’s campaign to reduce the use of Ludlow Youth Centre and now, we fear, to close it all together. Over the last seven years, the council has placed ever tighter restrictions on the use of the centre. At one point, council officers instructed that posters – many of which promoted youth health – should be taken down because posters are not allowed in “corporate buildings”. Now, Shropshire Council has restricted use of the remaining youth space to three people at any time. Allowing for the legally required level of supervision, that’s a youth club of one person. It took 25 years for Ludlow to get a dedicated Youth Centre for Ludlow. We must not lose it.

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.

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.

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. Main article 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.

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. Main Article 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.

Back to top