Oxford

Oxfordshire youth centres lose council funding

Half of Oxfordshire's youth centres may be forced to close after the county council agreed to cut their funding.

Councillors voted to axe money for 13 of the county's 26 centres with volunteers asked to help support the service.

The move has been criticised by youth groups who protested at the meeting.

The Conservative-controlled county council said it needed to restructure the service to help it make financial savings of £17m by 2015.

The authority said it had taken into account views from a public consultation but had to make savings.

Councillor Louise Chapman, member for children, young people and families at the county council, believes many of the 13 centres without funding can still survive.

'Mission impossible'

She added: "At six of these centres we are working with our schools and other partners in order that evening and drop-in type centres will continue.

"I am confident, but I can't give a guarantee that they will continue.

"At the other seven we have some excellent councillors who are working with our communities."

Under the new plan there will be seven youth "hubs" and six smaller centres across the county.

Richard Bryant, volunteer and trustee of Wood Farm Community Centre near Headington, said: "The news isn't unexpected but it is still pretty devastating.

"The youth club I am involved in is seriously at risk.

"We are losing our full-time youth worker and in order to replace that post through voluntary fundraising it would take between £30,000 and £35,000 a year which is a mission impossible.

"An area like Wood Farm is an area in considerable social need, has a lot of young people and deserves to have a decent youth centre running."

The county council said it had to save up to £119m within the next four years following a reduction in government funding.

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